Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the most experienced politicians of the UN General Assembly.
“Talking about experience, there are two more experienced politicians at the UN General Assembly – I can not think of anyone else – first I am and the other is Putin,” he told TRT World.
Erdogan stressed that both had been in power for more than a decade as presidents or prime ministers of their countries, and boasted of having “good and special ties” with the Russian leader.
Erdogan said that this relationship helped Russia and Turkey initiate several rounds of talks between the Syrian government and the jihadists within the Astana process and get good results in the fight against the “terrorists” in the Kurdish-dominated northern areas in Syria.
Relations soured significantly in November 2014 when Turkey downed a Russian jet in Syrian skies. Although many speculated that Russia would declare war on Turkey, this did not eventuate with Russia placing sanctions that cost Turkey billions of dollars to its economy. This came as Erdogan absolutely refused to apologize for the incident and saw Putin adopt a very aggressive economic policy against Turkey.
However, once Erdogan capitulated to Putin and apologized, Turkish-Russian relations have seen a golden era with Turkey now openly and loudly opposing the United States-led NATO while increasing trade and military ties with Russia.
Russia is now selling the famed S-400 anti-missile defense system to Turkey that has seen huge protest from the NATO alliance as they would rather Turkey buy NATO approved equipment. This is especially significant as Turkey has the second largest standing army in the NATO alliance. Although Turkey and Russia are on opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, Russia has accommodated Erdogan’s mammoth ego by allowing the Asian country to take a significant role in peace initiatives.