Mr Erdogan said in his letter that Russia is Turkey’s friend and strategic partner, and the Turkish authorities do not want to ruin relations between the two countries. “We never had the desire or deliberate intention of shooting down the Russian Federation’s plane,” Mr Erdogan said.
The letter went on to say that the Turkish side “undertook much effort at great risk to retrieve the Russian pilot’s body from the Syrian opposition and bring it back to Turkey, where pre-burial procedures were carried out in accordance with religious and military procedures.
We performed this work at a level worthy of our two countries’ relations. I once again express my sympathy and profound condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who was killed and I am saying: “Excuse us.” I share their grief with all my heart. We look on this Russian pilot’s family as we would a Turkish family and we are ready to undertake any initiative that could lessen the pain and severity of the damage caused.” The letter also said that a judicial investigation is underway against the Turkish citizen said to be involved in the Russian pilot’s death.
Mr Erdogan expressed his deep regret for what happened and said that he is ready to do all possible to restore the traditionally friendly ties between Turkey and Russia and also to work together to respond to crisis situations in the region and fight terrorism.