President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
I would like to thank you for accepting my invitation to come to Russia.
The epidemic prevented us from meeting in person for a year and a half, although we did remain in regular contact with one another.
I am delighted that our relations continue to develop and are progressing in a positive manner. Our related agencies are working with each other on a regular basis and in all spheres. I have taken note while preparing for this meeting that last year our trade plunged by over 20 percent, but it increased by over 55 percent during the first nine months of this year, actually eight and a half months. In other words, we have not only made up for our losses during the pandemic year but also surged ahead by over 30 percent.
Our talks are sometimes not easy, but their outcome is always positive. Our agencies have learned to find compromises that benefit both parties.
Investments are increasing on both sides. Accumulated Turkish investments in the Russian economy have reached $1.5 billion, while Russian investments in the Turkish economy reached $6.5 billion. Major projects are being implemented, and everything is proceeding to plan.
TurkStream, a gas pipeline system to Turkey and transit deliveries to South European countries, has been launched in full and is working well. In this connection, I would like to thank you once again for your consistent stand on the construction of this gas pipeline system, which meets the interests of the Turkish people and Russia. Now that we can see quite complicated and turbulent processes on the European gas market, Turkey feels absolutely confident and stable in this respect.
Work on the Akkuyu nuclear power station is also proceeding according to the schedule.
We are cooperating quite successfully on the international stage, including on Syria and our contacts held to coordinate our positions on Libya. The Joint Russian-Turkish centre monitoring the ceasefire on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia is working actively, and this collaboration is a major guarantee of stability and of coordination of the sides’ positions on the further steps towards reconciliation.
However, there are very many unsettled matters. I am glad to see you in Russia, because it is impossible to discuss everything over the phone.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated): I would like to thank you as well.
My dear friend, I am happy to be able to meet with you face to face, just as we had planned.
The COVID pandemic has indeed separated many friends. The number of lives it has claimed worldwide is more than 4.5 million. Despite all the measures we are taking, our struggle against the pandemic is ongoing under these difficult circumstances.
First of all, I would like to thank you regarding the matter of forest fires in my country. I would like to thank you for your contribution to the assistance and support we received in combating the fires. I am expressing gratitude to you on behalf of our people and our country. Regrettably, your firefighters, as well as our men perished heroically trying to put out the fires. We spoke about this during one of our telephone conversations, but I would just like to once again express our condolences. A friend in need is a friend indeed, as the saying goes.
It is notable that Turkish-Russian relations, including political, economic, trade, military and defence, as well as industrial ties, are progressing, which is obvious. Despite a minor decline in our mutual trade, they are moving forward positively. I believe that we will continue developing in these spheres, boosting our relations and attaining our good goals.
I would like to express special gratitude for our relations in tourism and for your support to my country in this sphere. It is also gratifying that Russian citizens, Russian people preferred to spend their holidays in my country during that period of time.
You have mentioned this, and I would like to point out that I have visited Akkuyu, where a nuclear power station is being built, and I can say that its construction is proceeding according to plan. I have received reports saying that construction will be completed on time. I believe that we will be able to launch the first reactor of this nuclear power station already next year.
Of course, hard work is ongoing there. I can tell you that 13,000 people are working there: 10,000 Turkish citizens and 3,000 Russian citizens. It should also be said that nearly every one of our personnel have been trained in Russia. This is exactly why our relations continue to grow ever stronger.
Another matter I would like to mention is our joint efforts in the defence industry. We believe that it would be beneficial to discuss this matter.
Some people asked certain questions during the UN General Assembly session. We provided the necessary answers, because some of our plans have been fulfilled in this respect and cannot be reversed.
It is my strong belief that the strengthening of Turkish-Russian relations and their development will be really for us.
Our joint moves on the Syrian problem are very important as well. Peace in that region depends on Turkish-Russian relations.
Thank you very much for this warm welcome.
Vladimir Putin: The pandemic has indeed done a lot of damage to the tourist industry throughout the world. In 2019, 6.8 million Russian tourists visited Turkey, and the figure for 2020 was only 1.5 million. The situation is gradually improving: during the first nine months of this year, 2.5 million Russian tourists were in Turkey. This achievement is also due, in part, to our cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus; we have been collaborating positively, our joint efforts are gathering momentum. I believe that this will help revitalise our economies in general and the tourist industry in particular. We will talk about this in detail.