ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told his visiting Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan he hoped Ankara could fully restore order after a failed military coup last month, saying on Tuesday that Moscow always opposed unconstitutional actions.
Erdogan’s trip to Russia comes as Turkey’s relations with Europe and the United States are strained by what Ankara sees as Western concern about how it handled the abortive coup, in which more than 240 people were killed.
Putin, one of the first to call the Turkish leader to offer his support in the putsch’s aftermath, has positioned himself as a reliable ally even though ties between Moscow and Ankara were thrown into crisis by Turkey shooting down a Russian military jet near the Syrian border late last year.
Welcoming Erdogan in a Tsarist-era palace just outside his home town, Putin signaled on Tuesday he was ready to improve relations with Turkey, which he said had gone from a historical high point to a very low level.
“Your visit today, which you made despite the really complex domestic political situation in Turkey, shows we all want to restart our dialog and restore our relations,” said Putin, in preliminary remarks before the two men held talks.
Putin then offered Erdogan moral support over last month’s failed military coup.
“I want to again say that it’s our principled position that we are always categorically against any attempts at unconstitutional actions,” said Putin.
“I want to express the hope that under your leadership the Turkish people will cope with this problem (the coup’s aftermath) and that order and constitutional legality will be restored.”
Putin said the two men would discuss how to restore trade and economic ties and cooperation against terrorism.
Russia imposed trade sanctions on Turkey in the wake of the shooting down of its jet and the number of Russian tourists visiting the country fell by 87 percent in the first half of 2016.
Erdogan said Turkey was entering a “very different period” in its relations with Russia, and that solidarity between the two countries would help the resolution of regional problems.
He may also hope his trip to Russia will give pause for thought to some in the West who are nervous about the prospect of a rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara at a time when Turkey’s ties with NATO and the EU are under strain.