Turkish Delight: Trade Alliance Between Moscow, Ankara is a Win-Win Situation
In an interview with Sputnik, Russian economics expert Sergey Myasoyedov commented on Wednesday’s talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.According to Myasoyedov, both Russia and Turkey are poised to capitalize on the scrapping of bilateral trade restrictions.
The development of Russian-Turkish relations was high on the agenda of the Sochi talks, which were followed by a joint press conference where the two leaders responded to questions.
The Russian President noted, for his part, that the Russia-Turkey relations have attained a special status and been fully restored.
“It is very good that we have an opportunity to have an official meeting in order to discuss the key issues of bilateral ties and the international agenda…The very fact that our joint work [is conducted in] such a mode shows that Russian-Turkish relations are attaining a special nature, a special status, and are being fully restored,” Putin said.
He also stressed that the sides had agreed on a comprehensive decision to cancel mutual trade restrictions during the Sochi talks.
“You have asked, when it will be possible to say that the restrictions, which were imposed earlier, have been removed. You can say about that today… Any restrictions destroy the economy and ultimately inflict damage on our producers,” Putin said.
At the same time, he added that restrictions on visa-free travel and supplying of tomatoes from Turkey to Russia would remain for the time being.
As an exception, Russia will provide an opportunity for facilitated entry into the country for Turkish specialists and businessmen, he said.
Commenting on the results of the Sochi talks, Sergey Myasoyedov said that the development of Russian-Turkish cooperation, including economic partnership, is a worthy response to all those who try to drive a wedge between two Eurasian countries.
“In general, bolstering cooperation between the Eurasian countries is predetermined by the situation on the map and the ties that have developed over the past few years,” he said recalling that “there are only three Eurasian countries: Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey.”
Now that European politicians and the US have repeatedly tried to set Turkey at loggerheads with Russia, Moscow’s moves to build an alliance with Ankara and develop bilateral economic and business cooperation are “always advantageous,” according to Myasoyedov.
“And it seems to me that lifting restrictions on trade and economic ties between Russia and Turkey is a measure which will prove beneficial for both countries and both peoples,” he pointed out.
Russian-Turkish relations deteriorated following the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria by the Turkish Air Force in November 2015.
At the beginning of 2016, Russia retaliated by imposing a number of restrictive measures, including a ban on charter flights, food and flowers imports.
The countries’ relations normalized in June 2016 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized for the incident.In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would gradually lift economic restrictions it had imposed on Turkey.
On October 10, Putin announced the removal of embargo on Turkish fresh and dried oranges, tangerines, peaches, nectarines, plums and sloes.
Damascus says it fully supports a Russian proposal for the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria, in an initiative meant to boost the ceasefire in the Arab country and facilitate the progress of peace talks between the warring sides.
Late Wednesday, Syria’s official news agency SANA cited a Foreign Ministry source as saying that Damascus backs the Russian plan and remains fully committed to the countrywide ceasefire deal it signed with the militants last December.
The support, the source added, is in line with the Syrian government’s commitment to protecting the lives of people, helping them return to their normal lives and raising the living standard of citizens who have suffered from the foreign-backed crisis in the country.
The report also emphasized the Syrian army’s determination to continue its battles against Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham as well as other affiliated Takfiri terror groups across the country.
The Russian plan was put forward on Wednesday, the first day of the fourth round of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Based on the proposal, four hot spots would be singled out in the areas where the most intense fighting is underway between the Syrian government and different militant groups.
AFP cited a version of the initiative provided by a source close to the opposition as saying that the de-escalation zones would be created in the Syrian provinces of Idlib and Homs as well as the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus.
However, reports say the details are being worked out, and the document would be ready for signing later on Thursday.
The Astana process, which started in January, is being mediated by Iran, Russia and Turkey, the three guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria. Tehran and Moscow are allies of the Syrian government, while Ankara supports different militant groups.
Summarizing the first day of the talks, Russia’s special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said that Moscow’s initiative would help separate Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists from other militants in conflict zones.
“As you know, the Russian Federation is making intensive efforts to promote the Syrian peace settlement and is developing various schemes to strengthen the ceasefire agreement and make this agreement more effective,” added Lavrentiev, who is leading Moscow’s delegation in Astana.
The new round of Astana negotiations also marks the first time the US is represented by a senior diplomat. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Stuart Jones is attending the talks.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, voiced support for the de-escalation zones.
However, hours after the start of the fourth round, the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC), an opposition delegation, suspended its participation in the talks, calling on the government to end its airstrikes.
The UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called on the militants to return to the negotiating table “because what is important is also to look at the possibility of an outcome on a de-escalation.”
He stressed the importance of not destroying “the opportunity of good news” related to this issue.
Lavrentiev also dismissed the militants’ ultimatum as a bid to put pressure on Moscow, Tehran and Ankara. “The Syrian opposition must participate in the talks,” he said. “We hope common sense prevails.”
However, the RIA news agency quoted a source close to the negotiations as saying that the armed opposition would return to the talks on Thursday.