Friday, March 10, 2017

High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council meeting

Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan took part in the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.
March 10, 2017
The Kremlin, Moscow

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Sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.
The entire scope of Russian-Turkish relations with a focus on the further restoration of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties was discussed. The presidents also exchanged views on topical issues of the regional and international agenda.
A package of documents has been signed following the meeting.
The heads of states gave a joint news conference.
* * *
Remarks at the meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues, friends,
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to welcome you in Moscow at the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.
The meeting in this format is taking place after a pause that was caused by the well-known tragic events. Proactive political dialogue resumed between our countries, and so did efforts by foreign ministers to coordinate strategic planning. The mixed intergovernmental commission and bilateral civil society forum have also resumed their work.
Russia and Turkey have great potential for further advancing their neighbourly relations. Together, not only can we make up for the opportunities that were lost, but also raise our cooperation to a new level. At least Russia is willing to do so and committed to moving in this direction.
The President and I have just discussed the most urgent matters on the bilateral agenda, and agreed on the need to strengthen bilateral relations in the spirit of an advanced multifaceted partnership.
As we hold this expanded meeting with members of our governments and business leaders, I hope that we will be able to discuss specific areas of cooperation in the same business-like and constructive manner, as well as outline goals and reference points on all issues on the bilateral agenda.
Let me emphasise that Turkey is one of Russia’s main trade partners, while Russia is a key export market for Turkey. However, we have to acknowledge that bilateral trade has been declining in recent years. In 2016, it shrank by almost one third, all but reaching a level last seen a decade ago. We hope that we will be able to reverse this negative trend as soon as this year. This is what the intergovernmental commission aims to achieve, as does the intergovernmental programme on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation to be adopted today.
We also need to further stimulate mutual investment. Russia and Turkey have already reached significant results in terms of mutual investment, which stands at about $10 billion on each side. Of course, much more can be achieved. Proactive efforts by the Russian-Turkish investment fund are also to bring about new projects.
It is gratifying that we have been able to establish strategic cooperation in the energy sector. Turkey is Russia’s second largest natural gas importer. Last month, the intergovernmental agreement on the major project to build the Turkish Stream gas pipeline network came into force. This project will help increase natural gas supplies to Turkey and develop its transit potential.
Rosatom is designing the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, the first nuclear power facility in Turkey. Power Machines is involved in upgrading Turkey’s hydropower infrastructure. There are also great prospects for expanding cooperation in the metals industry, car manufacturing, production of agricultural produce and machinery.
Business communities in both countries are interested in expanding cooperation in such areas as innovation, research and technology. By stepping up bilateral economic ties, we could increase the share of mutual settlements in national currencies, and we know that the President is a proactive supporter of initiatives of this kind. Creating infrastructure in Turkey for the Mir Card Payment System would be a concrete step in this direction, as we have mentioned today during the one-on-one meeting.
Military technical cooperation deserves special attention, as well as contacts between law enforcement agencies and secret services, particularly on counter-terrorist efforts. Russian law enforcement agencies are interested in exchanging information on the movement of persons involved in terrorist activity in our countries. There are good prospects for further expanding cultural ties. In 2019, Russia and Turkey are to hold cross-years of culture and tourism.
Colleagues, before I give the floor to the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, let me say a few words about how this meeting will proceed.
As usual, we will hear presentations by foreign ministers who co-chair the joint strategic planning group, as well as the heads of the intergovernmental commission and civil society forum.
In addition, during the meeting, and at the working breakfast, other ministers and heads of agencies will have an opportunity to speak. I hope that both sides will actively contribute to this meeting. Thank you for your attention.
The floor is yours.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated): Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to see you all here.
On behalf of our delegation, and myself, thank you very much for your kind invitation.
Today, on behalf of our country and on behalf of our region, we are taking very important steps, and I hope that our meeting here will facilitate the adoption of constructive decisions.
In our official statements, I believe we can dispense with the phrase “normalisation of relations” because we believe we have already passed this stage on issues such as Syria and regional security. We have considered these issues. We often hold telephone conversations in the course of which we address these issues.
Of course, we should keep our communication channels, our diplomatic channels open. The civic society forum is primarily an organisation that provides an impetus to ties between our countries. We attach great importance to increasing our trade and developing our economic ties. We seek to increase our trade.
Unfortunately, recently, the volume of trade has declined, but we set the goal of increasing it and we will certainly work to consolidate the legal basis to advance our economic relations. To this end, we should take all the necessary steps without delay and we should eliminate all impediments to the development of our relations. Those firms and companies that are now represented in Russia should be relieved of the sanctions and restrictions that were imposed on them.
The first point I would like to make is that it is necessary to increase the frequency of flights between our countries, making them unlimited.
Secondly, we should promote cooperation and get Turkish industrialists involved in the supply of Russian-made MS-21 airplanes.
Our energy cooperation is very close today. I would like to mention primarily the Turkish Stream project, which is already under way.
Regarding the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, the rapid implementation of this project is of vital importance to us. We constantly monitor the development and implementation of these projects.
As for our military cooperation, we addressed it in the course of our one-on-one talks. Cooperation in this area is very important.
To be continued.

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