SOCHI – Anadolu Agency
Ankara and Moscow have agreed to deepen bilateral ties, Turkey’s president said on Nov. 13.
“We have agreed to deepen our relations,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a news conference with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin at the presidential residence in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi, following a meeting between the two leaders.
Erdoğan added that he was “pleased” that relations between Ankara and Moscow have reached a “very advanced level.”
“Of course, we do not find this level satisfactory. Both sides agree that our countries and people should be closer and have stronger cooperation in every area,” he added.
He said he had visited Russia three times this year and met Putin for the sixth time, adding that “intense” diplomacy continues.
He reiterated Turkey’s desire to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion, but added to achieve this aim, “all restrictions [against Turkey], including the visa ban on businessmen,” must be lifted.
“At this point it is important to restore the visa exemption regime,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan said consultations between the countries for lifting all trade obstacles are continuing.
After Turkey shot down a Russian military jet over an airspace violation in November 2015, Moscow took several measures against Ankara, including banning the imports of Turkish agricultural products and ending visa-free travel for Turks.
In June, Moscow lifted the ban on some agricultural produce as well as Turkish firms involved in construction, engineering, and tourism.
Erdoğan said he places “high” importance on joint defense industry efforts with Russia.
Putin said that Russia and Turkey had reached “pre-crisis levels.”
“The increase in the trade volume between our countries also indicates this,” he added.
Putin said the trade volume rose 36 percent in the first nine months of this year. “We believe that we can totally compensate for the drop last year by the end of this year,” he added.
He said they discussed “in detail” lifting the remaining restrictions on Turkey.
The leaders discussed bilateral relations and regional and international developments, particularly Syria, they said.
“We have especially found an opportunity to evaluate the latest developments in the Syrian dispute,” Erdoğan said.
He added that Turkey and Russia agreed that grounds have emerged for political resolution in Syria.
Putin said joint work with Russia, Turkey, and Iran on Syria continues “successfully” and the level of violence there has decreased.
Turkey and Russia, together with Iran, are the guarantor countries who brokered a December cease-fire in Syria, which led to the Astana, Kazakhstan talks, being held in parallel to U.N.-backed discussions in Geneva to find a political solution to the six-year conflict.