Erdogan, Putin talks expected to boost trade relations
Two leaders set to meet in St. Petersburg Tuesday in an effort to accelerate the normalization of relations.
ANKARA (AA) – Economic relations between Turkey and Russia are expected to be on top of the agenda when Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin meet Tuesday.
The meeting in St. Petersburg marks the first meeting between the two leaders since Russia and Turkey began normalizing relations following the downing of a Russian jet in November last year.
After the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian jet that violated Turkish airspace over the Turkey-Syria border last November, relations between the two countries soured, until the issue seemed largely resolved on June 29 through a letter and subsequent telephone calls between the leaders.
Cooperation in energy projects, tourism, food and industrial exports as well as new investments are expected to be discussed during the talks, in addition to efforts towards boosting trade volume.
Two months prior to the jet crisis, the two countries had set a goal to increase mutual trade volume to $100 billion by 2023.
The trade increased nearly 18 percent between 2010 and 2014 to over $30 billion, according to Turkish Statistical Institute.
Official data from Turkish Statistical Institute and Russian Federal Statistics Service Rossat showed that last year Russia was the second largest destination of Turkish exports while it was the third largest source of imports to Turkey.
In the first six months of 2016, Turkey’s exports to Russia dropped by 60.5 percent to $737 million compared to the same period last year.
The crisis also had a negative effect on tourism, after Moscow banned the sale of package tours and charter flights to Turkey.
Due to these restrictions, Turkey lost $840 million in tourism revenue over the first half of the year, as the number of Russian tourists travelling to Turkey dropped by 87 percent to around 184,000 compared to the same period last year.
On June 30, Russia lifted a ban on tourist flights to Turkey following a phone conversation between Putin and Erdogan.
On July 22, Russia also lifted restrictions on flights to Turkey, which had been implemented temporarily following the coup attempt, after Turkish officials assured their Russian counterparts that additional security measures were taken.
Energy cooperation, and in particular the Turkish Stream pipeline project, and Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant are other topics of critical importance expected to be discussed at the meeting.
Announced by Putin in Dec. 2014 during a visit to Ankara, the Turkish Stream pipeline project plans to carry Russian gas via the Black Sea and Turkey to southeastern Europe.
The project was shelved following the crisis. Now with the normalization of relations between the countries underway, the project is expected once more to be an important topic for bilateral talks.
On July 29, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that talks with Turkey had resumed on the Turkish Stream natural gas project.
The meeting is also expected to help re-start Turkey's first nuclear power plant project.
In 2010, Turkey signed agreements with Russia on the construction and operation of nuclear power plants in Turkey.
Turkey’s first nuclear power plant Akkuyu, in the province of Mersin at the southern Mediterranean coast, was due to be carried out by Russia with a budget of $25 billion. It is under construction and will have a capacity of 4,800 megawatts with four units.
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