Russian-Turkish talks 2017-12-11 21:30:00 Ankara The Russian head of state and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed current issues of bilateral cooperation, primarily the progress of implementing major joint energy projects. They also exchanged views on key international issues, including the situation in the Middle East and the Syrian settlement process. Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan also made statements for the press. Earlier on the same day, Vladimir Putin visited the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria, and Egypt. The two leaders made statements for the press following the talks. * * * Press statements following Russian-Turkish talks President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated): Dear friend, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome all of you from the bottom of my heart. It is immensely satisfying to have Mr Putin and his accompanying delegation here in our country again. Once again, I welcome them to our country. I am meeting with my friend, Mr Putin, for the eighth time this year. This close dialogue demonstrates our working partnership with regard to our bilateral relations and regional issues. Russian-Turkish cooperation is growing stronger every day. We interact in a harmonious working environment at the political level. These visits and our telephone conversations allow us to regularly assess critical issues and develop a common viewpoint. We will continue this strategic coordination during the seventh meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council, which will be held here next year. Prior to this meeting, our respective ministers will conduct the preparatory work. This harmony at the political level is positively reflected in our economic and humanitarian contacts. Our bilateral trade increased by 30 percent in the first ten months of 2017. I must also note that our cooperation in the tourism sector is at a very good level. This year, 4.5 million Russian tourists visited our country, and this figure should undoubtedly grow in 2018. Another critical aspect of our bilateral relations is energy. We believe that partnership in this area will be raised to a new level through the Turkish Stream and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant projects. Both sides are determined to complete these projects in the shortest possible time. Ladies and gentlemen, apart from bilateral relations my friend Mr Putin and I discussed regional issues today, which obviously included the developments in Jerusalem. The decision by the US leadership to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel resulted in major unrest. This was a disappointment for Muslims, Christians, and for the reasonable Jewish population. By the end of last week, four Palestinians were killed and about 2,000 wounded by Israeli soldiers. Israeli aircraft bombed the Gaza Strip. You could say that Israel is only adding fuel to the fire. Israel seeks to use this process as a means of stepping up pressure and acts of violence against the Palestinians. These crimes cannot be ignored by people of conscience and principle. As you may know, as the current President of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey will convene an emergency summit in Istanbul in two days. The leaders of the member countries were invited to attend. I believe that we will send a strong message to the world at this meeting. On the Jerusalem issue, I see that there are some similarities to Mr Putin’s approach. We agree to maintain contact on this matter. We also discussed Syria today with a special focus on the decisions adopted at the Sochi Summit, which in turn followed up on the Astana meetings. We reviewed these decisions and discussed further steps. We agreed to have a second meeting in Sochi to look at the additional steps that can be taken to push the political process forward. On the other hand, I think that our countries, being the guarantor countries for the Astana meetings, can make a significant contribution to the Geneva process. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe close contact between Turkey and Russia is beneficial not only in terms of bilateral relations, but also for regional stability. In this context, it is our intention to maintain this momentum going forward. I very much want this visit to be beneficial. Regarding the S-400 systems, I can say that the relevant agencies of our countries are expected to complete what needs to be done this week. I wish them every success in their endeavours. Thank you very much. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, We are happy to be in Ankara today visiting our dear friends, our friend President Erdogan. And I would first like to stress that the talks were held in a business-like and constructive atmosphere. We have discussed key issues of bilateral cooperation including the implementation of strategic trade and economic projects and defence industry projects, and exchanged views on current issues of the international and regional agendas. It is natural in this respect that the focus was on the sharply escalating situation in the Middle East settlement process and in Syrian affairs where our two countries are closely collaborating. Let me stress that cooperation between Moscow and Ankara has been successfully progressing in very diverse areas. I should also mention contacts between our foreign ministries, sectoral ministries, parliamentary exchanges, and the work of the intergovernmental commission. President Erdogan and I noted with satisfaction that bilateral trade has grown significantly since the beginning of the year: from January to September, trade rose by 36 percent to $15 billion. It was $15.8 billion for the whole of last year, so it is definitely going to be higher this year. All this became possible thanks to our joint decisions to cancel restrictions in trade and the economy. Let me note that over the first eight months of this year, Turkey’s agricultural exports to Russia increased by 80 percent. It is not a secret that today, too, we discussed further action to liberalise our trade and economic links. I think our conversation regarding this issue was very helpful. The growing number of Russian tourists travelling to Turkey is very indicative, which Mr President just mentioned. Four million Russians have visited Turkish resorts this year. As a reminder, in 2016 that number was as low as 866,000. We had a detailed discussion of our cooperation in the energy sector. It is of crucial importance that we are beginning to work on Akkuyu, the first nuclear power plant in Turkey. The Turkish Stream gas pipeline construction is on schedule. Two lines, each with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic metres, will run along the bottom of the Black Sea. Completion of this project will improve Turkey’s energy security and diversify supplies of Russian gas to other countries. We also see significant prospects for expanding our military and technical cooperation. Today we finally came together on a loan agreement, which, I can now confirm, will hopefully be signed very shortly. We spoke about Syria as well. Almost the entire territory is now free of terrorists. If there is any more resistance from the terrorists, we will take quick action in response. Another item on the agenda was the political settlement in Syria. During the trilateral meeting of the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents on November 22, we reached certain agreements concerning this issue. Now it is important to go through with them. In particular, we continue to work together on preparations for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be held early next year. The plan is for the congress participants to analyse issues of great importance to the entire Syrian nation, such as future state structure, adopting a constitution and holding constitution-based elections under the supervision of the United Nations Organisation. I am not revealing any secrets if I say that during my trip to Syria today I discussed this with President Assad in detail. We proceed from the premise that the congress will result in more intense efforts towards a Syrian settlement within the Geneva process as well. As guarantors of the Astana process, we continue to maintain the ceasefire and ensure stability in the de-escalation zones and to increase trust between the conflicting parties. We agreed to continue close coordination in light of the preparations for the eighth international meeting on Syria in Astana later this month. I would like to note the positive contribution of the Turkish Republic and President Erdogan to the reconciliation between the parties. We discussed the humanitarian situation as well. I would like to note that both Russia and Turkey believe that the US administration’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and to relocate the US embassy there does not do anything to help settle the situation in the Middle East and is instead destabilising an already complicated situation. This may, in fact, ruin the prospects for the Palestine-Israel peace process. Russia believes that the settlement must be built exclusively and fully on the previous decisions of the United Nations. The specific terms of the agreement on Jerusalem’s status are the subject of direct talks between Palestine and Israel. The Turkish President informed me about preparations for a special summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to take place the day after tomorrow in Istanbul. Naturally, as an observer state in the OIC, Russia will be represented at the event. Finally, I would like to thank the Turkish President for an open and constructive discussion. We intend to further work on improving cooperation between our countries based on good neighbourliness and respect for each other’s interests. Thank you very much.