vladimir putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.png
Photograph: screenshot / youtube.com

As Russia gets ready to welcome Turkey's president and the survivor of a coup attempt, officials in Moscow aren't too perturbed about how these events will test the countries' rekindled relations.

Despite Turkey's political unrest, relations with Russia have been on a gradual course of improvement since the leadership in Ankara apologized last month for the downing of a Russian warplane, the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told dpa.

However, she cautioned that bilateral relations cannot be rebuilt in a day. "It's a long process," she said by phone.

Russia's traditionally robust ties with Turkey plummeted to an unprecedented low late last year when a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

But last month, marking a dramatic pivot in Russian-Turkish relations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized to the family of the killed Russian pilot.

Next month, Russian President Vladimir Putin will host Erdogan in Russia, the Kremlin said Wednesday. The meeting will be their first since the Russian plane was shot down in November.

"This will be a decisive meeting," Alexey Malashenko, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank, told dpa. Bilateral relations will surely improve, he said, but the extent will be determined by Turkey's political situation.

Following the attempted coup in Turkey over the weekend, Putin was one of the first world leaders to call Erdogan, in a gesture of solidarity.

Putin "expressed words of sympathy to President Erdogan over the numerous deaths, both among civilians and law enforcement officers who stood against the plotters, and expressed his hope that constitutional order and stability will be restored in Turkey as soon as possible," the Kremlin said in a statement on Sunday.

Next week, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli is expected to visit Moscow to discuss the resumption of trade and economic ties, including in the energy sector.

A major topic of discussion could be the proposed Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline, slated to stretch from Russia to Greece via Turkey and the Black Sea.

But Russia views Turkey as unsafe for its citizens and has once again banned flights to what was once one of the most popular Russian tourist destinations.

Russia is still allowing flights from Turkey, though, including as a way to bring Russian citizens back home. More than 2,000 Russians have been evacuated from Turkey since the attempted coup, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Just three weeks prior, Russia lifted a months-long ban on selling vacation packages to Turkey, a measure that had been imposed as retaliation for the downing of the Russian warplane.

Now, in a move that could appease Russia, the Turkish leadership has distanced itself from the pilots of the Turkish fighter jet who were responsible for bringing down the plane.

Erdogan said Wednesday that the pilots have been detained on suspicion of being involved in the attempted coup.

Latest news

Trump: I won't attend White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that he does not plan to attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year.

US Democratic Party chooses Tom Perez to be next party chief

The US Democratic Party elected former labour secretary Tom Perez as its next party chief at a meeting in Atlanta on Saturday.

73-year-old man dies after car ramming in Germany

A 73-year-old male pedestrian died from his injuries after being run over when a car rammed into people in the south-western town of Heidelberg, police said Saturday.

Syrian government vows retribution for Homs attacks that killed 42

The Syrian government vowed retribution for synchronized attacks on Saturday in Homs City that left 42 security personnel dead and reportedly involved up to six suicide bombers.

Between 250,000 and 300,000 Croatians suffer from rare diseases

Rare Disease Day, observed on February 28, was marked in Zagreb's Cvjetni Trg Square on Saturday.

German police shoot man who rammed car into pedestrians in Heidelberg

Police in Germany shot a man who rammed a car into pedestrians in the south-western town of Heidelberg on Saturday.

Egypt's al-Sissi orders cabinet to help Christians fleeing Sinai

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi ordered the government on Saturday to take all necessary measures to help Christians who escaped northern Sinai after the Islamic State militia killed at least six of them over the past month.

SDP MP calls on citizens to raise their voice against restriction of women's rights

Josko Klisovic, a Social Democrat member of the Croatian parliament, on Saturday called on all Croatians to raise their voice against a policy turnaround on women's rights after Croatia took a conservative position in a discussion on human rights in the Council of the European Union.

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's aide of 22 years

An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted one of ousted president Hosny Mubarak's closest aides, ruling he was not guilty of corruption and illicit profits.

EU ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin under 24-hour police protection

EU Ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin and her family have been given 24-hour armed police protection due to threats she has been receiving lately, the Austrian paper Der Standard said on Saturday, explaining that the threats were linked to Vlahutin's monitoring of a reform of Albania's judiciary designed to curb corruption in that country.

Italy deports two over suspected contact with Berlin attacker

Italy has deported two Tunisian asylum seekers who have been classed as a danger to national security, the Interior Ministry in Rome said on Saturday.

Croatian PM says HEP IPO most efficient model for INA buyout

Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic on Saturday commented on models for buying back Hungarian oil and gas company MOL's stake in INA, saying that an initial public offering of 25% of the HEP power company's shares to obtain funds for INA's buyout was "the most efficient, fastest, simplest and cleanest option with the fewest participants, which enables the state, which is the owner (of HEP), to control the process in its entirety."