Kremlin edited a statement regarding President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, replacing the term 'apologize' with 'excuse us,' while a presidential source underscored that the letter did not include the term apology.
''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'' Kremlin quoted President Erdoğan.
On Monday, President Erdoğan sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, expressing regret and condolences for the downing of a Russian jet in November 2015.
While various media outlets claimed President Erdoğan 'apologized' for the incident, a statement released by Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın specifically used the term 'excuse us' rather than 'we apologize.'
In the letter sent on Monday, Erdoğan extended condolences to the family of the Russian pilot, whose warplane was downed over violation of airspace, the presidential source said, speaking on condition of anonymity, due to restrictions on speaking to media.
The source clarified that the sorrow expressed in the letter was addressed not to the Russian state, but to the pilot's family, and there was no reference to compensation.
The source said that Turkey's position on Syria, Ukraine and Crimea would remain unchanged, and added: "However, from now on we will be able to communicate directly with Russia on these issues and get involved in the developments."
The source went on to say that the recent developments would help remove any limitations targeting Turkey's tourism industry. Ankara will also be monitoring the sanctions on agricultural products, the source added
Speaking to reporters on Monday, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın quoted Erdogan's words to President Vladimir Putin contained in the letter: "I would like to send my condolences to the family of the pilot who lost his life and express one more time that I share their pain. I am saying to his family: 'Excuse us'," he said.
The spokesman added that Ankara and Moscow had agreed to take necessary steps to improve relations.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin is expected to phone Erdoğan on Wednesday, presidential sources said.
Following the Nov. 2015 downing of the Russian warplane by Turkey, the Kremlin ordered sanctions on food products, an end to visa-free travel, and a ban on Russian tourists taking package holidays in Turkey.