President Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to endorse what my colleague said, the Prime Minister of Turkey, and also there is something I would like to add in conclusion.
Just a month has gone by since the official visit of the President of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Turkey, just a month. And quite honestly, I was surprised and pleased at how fruitful our talks were with the Turkish Prime Minister yesterday evening and in our morning session today. And this is not surprising, because the extent of our relations and their diversity require such regular meetings. Indeed, we did not waste a single minute yesterday evening or today: not a minute went by without discussion of important problems of our cooperation. I must say that everything that was heard from the respected participants of the meeting today was heard yesterday and this morning at an official level. The Prime Minister, Mr. Kursad Tuzmen [State minister of Turkey] the Energy Minister of Turkey [Hilmi Guler], and other colleagues addressed, in fact, all the problems that were raised today by business representatives.
Of course, we did not just talk about economic problems – we also talked about international issues. I must say that today proposals were heard to use Turkey’s infrastructure to develop and restore Iraq: we also discussed this topic. We are naturally concerned about the situation in Iraq at the moment. As we know, the state of emergency there has been prolonged by two months, although elections are scheduled for 30 January. The situation remains difficult; and we are interested in peaceful development of the situation in this country, and will do everything on our part to achieve this, and will unite the efforts of Russia and Turkey, because the situation in our country depends to a large degree on prosperity in this region of the world.
As for the problem of Cyprus, I can say that we of course discussed this topic, and I would like to stress that Russia supports the efforts of the UN General Secretary – and I recently had the opportunity to discuss this topic with him by telephone – aimed at regulating the Cyprus problem, including his plan to develop economic relations with Northern Cyprus, to remove the blockade that has been in force there for many years.
As for the economy, of course this is the main component of our cooperation, and I would like to comment right now on several speeches.
First, I was happy with the thorough work that has been conducted in many areas on the main strategic issues of our cooperation. In the energy sphere, we agreed to increase deliveries of Russian gas, and for Russian companies to participate in distributing gas on the territory of Turkey; our specialists are holding talks to build gas-holders in Turkey, to deliver Russian raw energy to third countries, and about the possibility to realise serious projects on liquefaction of gas. All this, as you understand, increases the economic and export possibilities of Russian energy sector, and creates a favourable new image for Turkey in international energy cooperation. We did not just restrict ourselves to delivery of raw energy, we also talked about cooperation in other spheres of power engineering, such as electrical energy: we discussed increasing deliveries, for Russian companies to take part in the network sphere, in generation etc.
We consider it very important to develop the proposals made by the State Minster of Turkey [Kursad Tuzmen] – I mean the development of our cooperation in infrastructure. And here I agree with our Turkish colleagues, with the Prime Minister and State Minister, that we need to think not just about pipeline transport, which is of course very important, but this project has already been realised – I mean the “Blue Flow” project – we also need to think about developing railway communications, sea communications, and to use the Black Sea more effectively. And here I agree with the Prime Minister’s comments that cooperation in the Black Sea needs to be intensified.
Yes, of course, we will continue to work in the processing industry, and in the light industry sphere. We will make according agreements in the social sphere.
As for tourism, naturally this is a sphere that has become a good indicator of the development of business ties, ties in the humanitarian sphere, and an improvement in the climate between our countries and peoples. There is probably something to think about here to improve this cooperation. Our colleagues spoke at official talks and today about making use of Turkish carriers for transporting Russian tourists.
We only have one restriction, and today we told our Turkish colleagues about this. It is connected with charter carriers, and they do not just apply to Turkey. Russian tourists are transported by Russian charters, but not just to Turkey, to other countries as well – this is a common restriction. But there are no restrictions for Turkish airlines to transport Russian tourists on regular flights. And here our specialists noted that Turkish companies do not make full use of these opportunities – for example they do not fly to Petersburg, although they have the right to do this. This is just a small detail. I am not saying that we need to restrict ourselves to this.
I merely want to say that in my opinion, these meetings help to open up opportunities and articulate problems that stop us from moving ahead. Of course, this also concerns the actions of administrative bodies, above all customs services. We agreed that a delegation from the Ministry of economic development and trade headed by Minister German Gref would plan to make a business trip to Turkey. The delegation will include heads of customs services, who will be guided not just by reference prices, but by economic realities. And on the one hand, they will not allow dumping, and on the other they will go from economic realities. Of course, our customs service will work on this, along with a series of other issues connected with debt obligations and using these debt obligations to develop economic ties. These possibilities exist, of course. We will work on this further.
As for the trade imbalance, here we need to look at the problems that exist together, from both sides. Yes, there is a flow of energy resources from Russia, but we also know of other imbalances in certain spheres – I already talked about this – such as in the construction sphere.
The investment made by Russia comes to $300 million — $350 million, while the investment made by Turkey in Russia comes to $1.5 billion. This is also an imbalance. All of this, I believe, or at least a great deal of this, can be solved when the Russian Federation joins the World Trade Organisation. Then many things will be regulated naturally for the benefit of our cooperation. I want to stress once more: we were very happy with the position of Prime Minister Erdogan directed towards a swift solution of the problem of Russia joining the World Trade Organisation.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you, to thank you for finding the opportunity to come to the Russian Federation. I would like to thank Mr. Prime Minister for being the initiator of this visit, because even against the background of Russia’s swiftly developing economic relations with other countries, it looks very impressive: 600 representatives of Turkish business came to the Russian capital together to take part in talks with their colleagues to look for new possibilities in developing economic ties! This is a good sign that our future will be provided for, and provided for in the best possible way.
I want to thank you and once more wish you a Happy New Year.
Thank you very much.