Turkey, Russia to seek new ways to deepen economic ties despite disagreements in Syria, Ukraine
Accompanied by a crowded delegation of ministers, Russian President Putin is expected to attend Turkey- Russia High-Level Cooperation Council in Ankara Dec. 1. AA PhotoTurkish and Russian presidents, along with a number of ministers will meet today to seek ways to further increase economic and energy cooperation, as well as to multiply trade volume despite disagreements in a number of international issues, including Syria, Ukraine and Cyprus.
The Turkey-Russia High-Level Cooperation Council will be held in Ankara under the co-leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with the participation of 10 ministers from both sides. Established in 2010, the council’s ultimate objective is to increase the current $33 billion trade volume to $100 billion by the year of 2020 and make the two countries each other’s top trade and economic partner.
Putin and his large delegation are expected to arrive in Ankara early Dec. 1 where teams from the two countries will hold intense meetings. Erdoğan and Putin will lead talks and will later hold a joint press conference to announce results of this year’s council meetings. The Russian delegation will leave Ankara following the conclusion of the talks. The meetings are expected to take place in the new presidential palace as Putin will become the second leader hosted in the new premises after Pope Francis.
The most important agenda of the council meeting will be deepening economic relations by diversifying fields of cooperation. Turkey and Russia increased trade volume to nearly $33 billion in 2014, but are seeking new opportunities to triple it by the year of 2020. In an interview with Anadolu Agency before his trip to Ankara, Putin said “Hopefully, together we will be able to increase our mutual trade and enhance the quality of investment cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of Russia and Turkey. We have already agreed with Erdoğan that we can bring our mutual trade up to $100 billion.” “Turkey has been and remains an important foreign trade partner for Russia. In 2013, our bilateral trade turnover reached $32.7 billion. The accumulated Russian direct investments in Turkey exceed $1.7 billion, and similar Turkish investments in Russia are close to $1 billion. We are both interested in maintaining this positive trend,” he added.
The council meeting will also seek ways for Turkey to increase its scope and amount of foodstuff exports to Russia after Moscow decided to impose counter-sanctions against the European Union countries over the Ukrainian crisis.
The energy cooperation will have a significant part in talks. Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yıldız was in Moscow last week to demand more supply of natural gas from Russia but at a discounted price.
“Gazprom and Turkey’s BOTAŞ have still been discussing the deals. As far as I know, Turkey wants to renew the existing gas deal with Russia upon a new principle of price setting, rather than asking for a gas discount upon the existing principle. Gazprom will decide to accept or reject this idea. We’ll see what it said soon,” Putin said in the interview. The cooperation in the field on nuclear plants will also be discussed during talks.
Putin and Erdoğan are also expected to discuss developments in the Middle East and Ukraine, but there are no expectations for an agreement on these issues. The two leaders will make their position clear once again, but are likely not to allow their disagreements to negatively affect bilateral economic ties.