Turkey to prepare new proposals for Russia to resume flights
Turkey is preparing to introduce new proposals to Russia for the resumption of flights between the two countries, with plans for Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the matter with the Russian authorities.
“We aim [to launch the tourism season] in May. We will follow the course of the pandemic. We will start to see the impacts of the [Russian] decision [to restrict flights to Turkey] this week. A date for the end of restrictions may be brought forward in line with the decrease of the [coronavirus] cases,” Ersoy told journalists after the late April 13 cabinet meeting in Ankara.
Ersoy did not mention when he will visit Moscow but he underlined that around half a million Russian tourists would be affected by the Russian decision to restrict flights to Turkey, saying that “however, there is no problem concerning our summer reservations.”
Russia has decided to restrict flights to Turkey between April 15 and June 1 due to a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey. Turkey announced around 60,000 new coronavirus cases as of late April 13. Around 2 million Russian tourists visited Turkey last year, making Russia the top tourist sender country despite the pandemic.
Turkey will give assurance to Russia that it is taking all necessary precautions in resorts certified by the Turkish Government and for the safety and health of Russian tourists, sources said, recalling that a similar procedure was applied to German tourists in 2020 under a protocol with Berlin. Turkey has also invited a health delegation from Russia to examine the situation in resorts.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu underlined that both his ministry and Culture and Tourism Ministry were exerting efforts for the resumption of flights from Russia.
Russia’s move not political: FM
“Unavoidably, the decision will have negative impacts,” Çavuşoğlu said, stressing Turkey was expecting more tourists from Russia.
“We have proposed to Russia a similar cooperation we had with Germany last year,” he said.
On being asked whether this decision has a political motivation due to Turkey’s support to Ukraine in the ongoing crisis with Russia, Çavuşoğlu said, “I don’t see anything political [behind it]. It is just because of health reasons.”
“Russians do want to visit Turkey so much. There is no reason for a political decision on this,” the minister stressed, informing that the date of the Turkish-Ukrainian High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting was determined much before the crisis between Ukraine and Russia.
“On the other hand, our position about Crimea is well known, and we conveyed it to Russia. On the defense industry, whether state institutions or private companies, we are selling them to all countries if we can agree on the conditions. Otherwise, you cannot sell [this equipment] to anybody. We are not among any other country that is imposing preconditions,” he said.
Russia has expressed its disturbance over Turkey’s supply of unmanned aerial vehicles to Ukraine, which has already started to use them in an ongoing crisis with Russia over Donbas.