Putin Meets Erdogan to Bolster Russia-Turkey Economic TiesWorld | December 1, 2014, Monday // 18:05| views
Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in the new presidential palace outside Ankara, Turkey, 1 December 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES
Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Monday started his one-day state visit to Turkey expected to focus on the further expansion of bilateral economic ties.
In his meeting with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Putin was expected to review the full spectrum of bilateral relations as well as key international and regional problems.
Talks were expected to focus on cooperation in the energy sector and trade. In an interview with Anadolu news agency last week Putin praised Turkey for seeking to take advantage of the Russian ban on food imports from the EU and the US – imposed in response to Western sanctions against Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine – to grow its own food exports.
Turkey’s Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker said last week that the country’s exports of poultry and seafood to Russia had jumped 447% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2014 and a further increase was expected next year.
Turkey's exports to Russia totalled at USD 4.5 B in January-September 2014 with the main export items being textiles, yarn, fabrics, manufactured goods, vegetables and fruit. Turkey’s imports from Russia, primarily natural gas, were worth USD 19.4 B over the same period.
In a decision clearly timed to coincide with Putin’s visit, Turkey’s environment ministry on Monday approved the environmental report for the construction of Akkuyu nuclear power plant – the country’s first.
In 2011, Russia’s Rosatom signed a deal with Turkey’s Energy Ministry to build and operate the nuclear power plant. The estimated cost of the project is USD 22 B.
Ankara, which depends on Russia for over half of its natural gas imports, is not only seeking a cut in the price of Russian gas deliveries but also increased supplies ahead of the winter.
According to Jonathan Friedman, Middle East analyst at risks consultancy Stroz Friedberg, with 60% of its natural gas imports coming from Russia, Turkey “can’t afford to follow the US and EU-led efforts to squeeze Russia by cutting off trade."
During their meeting the presidents of Turkey and Russia are also expected to discuss ways for tripling bilateral trade turnover to USD 100 B by the end of this decade from about USD 33 B last year.
A Russian delegation including the ministers of foreign affairs, energy, economy, labour and justice has also arrived in Ankara with Putin to take part in the fifth summit of the Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.
At the previous meeting of the council held last year Russia and Turkey signed five agreements to cooperate in the fields of energy, customs and information.
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