On the eve of my official visit to the Republic of Turkey I want to share my views on Russian-Turkish relations today. Our wide-ranging ties are unique in many ways, whether in terms of our geopolitical situation as two Eurasian countries, the more than 500 years of our sometimes stormy history that was not always smooth sailing, or the reciprocal influence that Russian and Turkish cultures have had on each other.
I feel great respect for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, an outstanding reformer whose contribution to building modern Turkey cannot be overestimated. Russia was the first country to recognise the young Turkish Republic, and provided considerable military technical and financial aid to the Turkish people during the difficult years of their fight for independence. On June 3 we will mark 90 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. My visit is taking place in the run-up to this symbolic date.
But for all the importance of past events life continues to move forward, and today we also need to analyse the present and look to the future.
What we can say with confidence is that Russian-Turkish ties are now reaching the level of full-scale strategic partnership. This is reflected in the joint declaration on advancing to a new stage in bilateral relations that our countries’ presidents signed in Moscow in February 2009.
This visit will see the establishment of a new mechanism for interstate consultations – the High Level Cooperation Council – under the chairmanship of the Turkish Prime Minister and myself. This council’s job is to develop the strategy and main directions for promoting our relations, coordinate implementation of important projects, encourage ties between our countries’ business communities, and facilitate coordination of foreign policy measures in the aim of maintaining international peace, stability and security.
We place great hopes on the Russian-Turkish public forum that will effectively provide the humanitarian dimension and support for the council’s work. Meetings between members of our business, cultural, scientific and youth communities will broaden our partnership and enrich it with new creative ideas.
Cooperation in the energy sector is a key element of our ties. We have a number of significant priority joint projects in this field, including construction of the South Stream and Blue Stream 2 gas pipelines, the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline, and a Russian-built nuclear power plant on Turkish soil. I am sure that implementation of these projects will be concrete evidence of the new quality of our relations and will make a big contribution to strengthening international energy security.
Our common task is to increase Russian-Turkish trade over the next 5 years 3–5-fold. We must do this not only through trade in raw materials. Russia, like many other countries, is working now on comprehensive modernisation of its economy and setting it on an innovative development track. These goals will create new opportunities for cooperation between our countries in promising fields such as high technology, and also reciprocal support of investment activity.
The Year of Russian Culture in Turkey in 2007, and the Year of Turkish Culture in Russia in 2008 gave new impetus to intensifying our humanitarian ties. These events demonstrated Russians’ desire to get to know Turkey better, as we can see too from the unprecedented tourism exchanges taking place. Around 3 million Russians visit Turkey every year.
Turkey is one of our important partners in regional and world affairs. We both understand the urgent need to fight international terrorism and respond to other threats and challenges in the world today, and we both understand that there is no alternative to deepening the dialogue between religions and civilisations.
Russia views Turkey as a good and reliable neighbour with which we are happy to work together on building up our cooperation for the good of our peoples.