Erdoğan says Russia visa-free travel fruit of warm relations
"The Russian move allowing visa-free travel to Turkish citizens is a result of warm relations and dialogue," Erdoğan said addressing a joint news conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad.
Under a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish holders of special and service passports paying short-term visits to Russia will no longer need to obtain visas.
Erdoğan said that the two leaders discussed cooperation between Turkey and Malaysia as two D-8 members and strategic partners.
He went on to say that solidarity between Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan is necessary for unity of the Islamic world.
Mahathir echoed the statement saying: “Cooperation between Malaysia and Turkey will help to relieve the Muslim Ummah from being subjugated by others.”
“Statements are easy to make. But to have an effective action is far more important. That is why I proposed that three Muslim countries should work together. At least these three [Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan]. So that we can speak with a louder voice in terms of many areas; defense, for example.”
He praised Turkey calling it a role model welfare state.
“All Muslim countries should be developed. Someone has to provide it, and we can say that Turkey is a candidate country for this cause,” said Mahathir.
Erdoğan, upon a question, talked about the release of Hakan Atilla, a former Turkish banking executive, from a federal U.S. prison last week and said that they will meet after Atilla spends time with his family first.
“His time in prison and all that process upset me and my colleagues [...] There is no barrier between Hakan Atilla and us. He is our son. We will embrace him,” he added.
Atilla's arrest came after Turkish businessman Riza Sarraf was arrested in 2016 in the U.S. for violating sanctions on Iran. Cooperating with prosecutors, he gave testimony against Atilla which was used to convict the banker.
Prior to the press conference, Erdoğan presented to Mahathir The Order of the State of Republic of Turkey, the highest state order awarded to foreign nationals.