Vladimir Putin's statement for the press and answers to journalists’ questions
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President [Erdogan], my friend,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank the President of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for accepting the invitation to be with us at the 14th MAKS-2019 International Aerospace Salon.
Mr President is accompanied by a delegation of high-ranking Turkish military, and industry and business representatives. Our guests from Turkey had a chance to see the achievements of the Russian aviation industry and watch the air show, which featured Su-35 multipurpose fighters, and the fifth-generation Su-57 fighter. We are also ready to offer flights on Su-30SM fighters to Turkish pilots.
We have certainly used Mr Erdogan’s visit to MAKS as an opportunity to hold bilateral talks and discuss, among other things, promising joint projects not only in aerospace, but also in other areas of military-technical cooperation. I am specifically referring to the contract with Turkey for the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft weapon systems.
Obviously, our meeting was not limited to cooperation in military technology. We considered a variety of ways to pursue Russian-Turkish interaction, and we exchanged views on relevant topics on the international and regional agendas.
This is not the first visit by the Turkish President to Russia this year. In April, Mr Erdogan and I held a productive meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council in Moscow; we also met at other sites. In mid-September, I will go to Ankara for a trilateral summit of Russia, Turkey and Iran, guarantors of the Astana process for Syria. Mr Erdogan is also invited to take part in the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow in October.
During the discussion of current international issues, primary attention was certainly given to the situation in Syria. Russia and Turkey cooperate closely in the Astana format along with Iran. We believe this format is the most effective tool for overcoming the crisis in Syria. We think that at this point the most important task is to focus on finally stabilising the situation on the ground and promoting a political settlement in conformity with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. In this context, Mr Erdogan and I discussed issues related to the creation and initiation of the Syrian Constitutional Committee that, we hope, will start functioning in Geneva soon.
Both our Turkish partners and we are seriously concerned about the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The terrorists continue shelling Syrian government troop positions and trying to attack Russian military facilities. We are convinced that the de-escalation zone should not serve as a shelter for militants, or be a bridgehead for new attacks. In this context, the President of Turkey and I mapped out additional joint measures for neutralizing terrorist hotbeds in Idlib and normalizing the situation both in this zone and in the rest of Syria.
Mr President and I spoke about this today in detail and agreed on what we should do to resolve these issues together and how to do it. In this process, we proceed from the immutable principles of preserving the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, and the unacceptability of dividing it into spheres of influence.
We also discussed other regional issues, in part, a settlement in the Middle East and developments in Libya.
In general, we have managed to work well together here at the aerospace salon. I would like to thank Mr Erdogan for this, as well as all of our Turkish colleagues who, let me repeat, accepted our invitation. I hope this joint work will be a good impetus for developing Russian-Turkish relations in all the areas we discussed today.
Question (retranslated): Can you tell us anything about Turkey’s cooperation with America on creating a security zone?
Vladimir Putin: Turkey is shouldering a huge refugee load. We are well aware of this; there are more than 3 million people. Incidentally, normalization in Syria is prompting many people to return home. Over 300,000 refugees from abroad and 1 million internally displaced persons have returned to their homes. But we understand Turkey’s concern over the security of its southern borders. We believe these are the lawful concerns of the Republic of Turkey. Today, Mr President spoke in detail about this. He made his position clear, and in my opinion, very understandable.
We believe the creation of a security zone on the southern borders of the Republic of Turkey will help ensure the territorial integrity of Syria itself. In this respect, we support all measures aimed at de-escalation in this zone.
Question: You spent a lot of time today looking at the exposition in detail. I think Mr Putin showed Mr Erdogan almost the entire range of achievements of our aviation industry.
You also said that during your talks you discussed military-technical cooperation and mentioned that a regular delivery of the S-400 system took place today. Did you discuss any new contracts?
Vladimir Putin: I could hardly show all the achievements of Russia’s missile, space and aviation industry in such a short amount of time. We are proud of our advanced developments in this area and our new prototypes for arms and equipment, and not just military but also civilian produce.
We also demonstrated the MS-21, a new civilian aircraft, which, I believe, the President liked. Our friends liked the helicopters, especially the MI-38. These are light helicopters that are used, in part, for medical purposes. Mr President intends to carry out a large programme for the development of medical airlift services in Turkey. We also have plans like this on our agenda in Russia.
Thus, we talked not only about military or military-technical cooperation but also about civilian related cooperation, both in space and aviation. As for military aviation, we discussed cooperation on the Su-35 (generation 4++) and even on the new Su-57. We have many opportunities. We showed a new weapons system and a new system for radio electronic warfare. In my opinion, our Turkish partners were interested in many things. I am referring not just to procurement but also to joint production. Incidentally, we are open to this and, in certain areas, we will be actively discussing it with our partners.