Efforts exerted to build trust

Wednesday, 2019-04-10 11:50:25
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The eighth meeting of the Russia - Turkey High-Level Cooperation Council was co-chaired by President Putin and President Erdogan. (Photo: kremlin.ru)
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NDO - Russian President V. Putin had a meeting with his counterpart T. Erdogan within the framework of an official visit to Moscow by the Turkish leader. The two sides agreed to promote bilateral cooperation to achieve the goal of raising two-way trade revenue to US$100 billion, while promoting joint energy projects, as well as continuing to “shake hands” in dealing with issues related to Syria. The bilateral relationship is seemingly developing in a favourable direction.

Despite disagreements after a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Su-24 aircraft in the Syrian sky in late 2015, both Russia and Turkey have turned to a new stage in the two countries’ relations. The two countries have step by step promoted their relationships which benefit both sides. The meeting between the two leaders focused on discussing important issues in their bilateral relations, including economic and trade cooperation, the implementation of joint energy projects, including the construction of the “Turkish Stream” pipeline to supply Russian natural gas to Turkey and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. President V. Putin acknowledged the high-level development of bilateral relations as bilateral trade increased by 15%, reaching about US$25 billion in 2018. The two sides have also set quite an ambitious goal of lifting bilateral trade to US$100 billion.

The Akkuyu nuclear power plant project in Turkey has also been evaluated as a highlight in the cooperation between the two countries as it is one of the key energy projects in Turkey. Meanwhile, Russia is the largest natural gas supplier to Turkey, with 24 billion cubic meters of gas exported to the country in 2018, meeting half of Ankara's demand.

The dual gas pipeline named the “Turkish Stream”, with the highest capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters per year and total cost of about US$ 20 billion, will be the first pipeline to transport Russian gas through the Black Sea to Turkey for domestic consumption, as well as transporting gas to Southern Europe and Central Europe. During the talks, the two sides agreed to accelerate the construction of receiving warehouses on the coast of Turkey so that the project would come into operation at the end of this year.

Turkey is currently under strong pressure from the US and its NATO allies as Ankara is determined to protect the contract to buy Russia’s S-400 missile defence system. President Erdogan’s visit to Russia confirmed Ankara’s determination to promote military cooperation with Moscow despite criticism from allies in NATO. The two presidents of Russia and Turkey agreed to implement the sale contract on the missile defence system as planned. They even stated that they can start the plan to produce high-tech military weapons. President Putin stressed that many other promising projects related to the supply of modern Russian military products to Turkey are also in the schedule of the two countries. According to Turkey’s Defence Ministry, the first delivery of the S-400 system will take place in this July and the system will be activated three months later.

Another important piece of content on the agenda between the two leaders was the “conflict hotspot” in the Middle East, in particular dealing with the crisis in Syria. This was an opportunity for Russia and Turkey to discuss a new Turkish military campaign in Syria. Speaking at the 8th meeting of the Russian-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council, President Putin affirmed the joint strategic planning group members discussed the situation in Syria at a meeting in Antalya. As guarantors of the Astana process, Russia and Turkey are continuing to make energetic, coordinated efforts for the long-term normalisation of the situation in the country in the context of stepping up the intra-Syrian political process, particularly with an eye towards forming a constitutional committee as soon as possible.

A series of important cooperation projects in the fields of economics, trade, energy, and military among Russia and Turkey are continuing to be promoted, showing that these two countries have been gradually building trust and using dialogue to resolve disagreements. Overcoming their differences, Russia and Turkey are embarking on effective and mutually beneficial cooperation in order to bring about economic benefits and enhance their international role and position.