Opening Address at the Meeting with Turkish Business Community Representatives 2005-01-11 21:36:03 Moscow, the Kremlin President Putin: Dear Prime Minister Erdogan, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am happy to welcome representatives of the Turkish business community to Moscow. I already met with many of you just over a month ago in Ankara when a very open and constructive discussion on the current situation and prospects for Russian-Turkish business ties took place. I must say that at the meetings yesterday evening and today we also discussed all issues relating to our cooperation in considerable detail. I would like to thank all of you who worked out specific proposals for this meeting and made rich presentations. Your interest, the interest that comes from your business community, and your thorough practical knowledge of the subject help us to identify the most pressing issues for business cooperation between Russia and Turkey. I know that all your proposals will be studied in detail by Russian and Turkish experts and officials. Life has shown us that the discussion that took place in Ankara and today’s discussion are very timely. Trade between our two countries is growing fast. In December we were expecting that results for 2004 would show an increase of trade between Russia and Turkey of up to a figure of $8 billion but our statistical reports today show that growth has exceeded our expectations and has reached the record figure of $10 billion and, according to some assessments, even $11 billion. I know that in the interview he gave just before leaving for Moscow, the Prime Minister said he thought that through joint efforts we could increase our trade turnover this year to $15 billion and reach a figure of $25 billion by 2007. I think that these are entirely realistic objectives so long as our two countries’ business communities play an active part in attaining them, that is, if you here today, the leading representatives of the Turkish business community, play an active part. It is clear that growing mutual interest among businesspeople in both our countries will require us to remove the barriers in the way of capital and goods flow. It also requires balanced resolution of disputes and ultimately obliges us in both Russia and Turkey to take an effective approach to building up modern infrastructure for our foreign economic ties. I want to stress again that yesterday evening and this morning these were precisely the issues we discussed. I want to stress that our dynamic political dialogue, a dialogue between neighbours committed to the principles of democracy and openness, forms a solid foundation for our trade and economic partnership. In this respect I see the political declaration signed in Ankara on December 6, 2004 by myself and Turkish President Sezer as an important step. We can say that Russian-Turkish cooperation is now taking place in an ever growing spirit of mutual trust, equality and respect for each other’s interests. We welcome and appreciate Turkey’s success at the Brussels summit with the European Union. As you know, Russia is also developing a strategic partnership with the European Union and we are building a common economic space together. The European Union accounts for more than 50 percent of our trade turnover and we hope that Turkey’s integration into the European Union will open up new opportunities for Russian-Turkish business cooperation. At the same time, it is very important to preserve what we have achieved thus far. All that is good and useful that we have built up through our joint efforts must not be lost. What is important here is careful calculation, pragmatism and, of course, analysis of the new EU member countries’ experience. We discussed this subject, though briefly, in Ankara. Many of the barriers that stand in the way of trade and economic cooperation can undoubtedly be removed after the completion of Russian-Turkish talks on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation on acceptable conditions. We spoke about this during our consultations and it is with great satisfaction that I note our Turkish colleagues’ positive attitude towards Russia’s joining to the World Trade Organisation. Coordination of the economic regulations in our countries, consistently pursuing market principles in our economic ties and expanding entrepreneurial freedom are of crucial importance in this respect. We are watching with interest the reforms carried out by the Turkish government under the leadership of Prime Minister Erdogan. Our national goals to modernise our economies have a lot in common. The Russian and Turkish governments are both striving to improve the investment climate, expand the domestic market, encourage innovation and develop export opportunities. This creates real prospects for increasing our investment cooperation and diversifying our trade turnover by taking real steps like compensating the trade deficit and correcting the imbalance in investment. The work carried out as part of the joint meetings of our two countries’ Business Council will also be of undoubted use and assistance. I am sure that these meetings and talks in Moscow will give you the chance to appreciate the opportunities and prospects for partnership with Russian colleagues. I sincerely wish you successful, long-term business projects and large-scale initiatives. In conclusion, I would like to congratulate everyone here on the New Year. This year, 2005, is of special significance because it marks the 60th anniversary of victory over Fascism, and I am happy that the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Erdogan, has accepted our invitation to take part in the celebrations of this anniversary in Moscow on May 9. This year is also significant in that it marks a special date in the history of relations between our two countries – the 85th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our country and the Republic of Turkey. I sincerely hope that this year will be a fruitful year for all areas of Russian-Turkish cooperation. Thank you very much for your attention.