Russia, Turkey set to diversify cooperation

Russia and Turkey, whose bilateral trade has already reached $22-25 billion, are seeking to establish a comprehensive partnership, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Turkish media on Monday.

Russia, Turkey set to diversify cooperation

The diplomat gave an interview to Turkey's CNN-Turk and NTV channels in the run-up to an official visit to Russia by Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on February 19-20.

"We are moving toward a comprehensive partnership," Lavrov said, adding that trade between the two countries had already reached $22-25 billion, with investment by Turkish companies into Russia rising to $5 billion.

The minister said the two countries' officials held regular discussions on regional and international issues, including developments in Iraq, Iran's nuclear program, and negotiations to reunite Cyprus.

Bilateral cooperation in the Black Sea area was a priority between the two countries, primarily in security, as were sea and surface transport, Lavrov added. He also said that Turkish building companies were seeking to join the construction of infrastructure for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, a Russian Black Sea resort.

Mikhail Kamynin, the Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesman, said that during his visit Babacan would discuss prospects for bilateral contacts within the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, a group established in 2001 to ensure security in the Black Sea, and the Black Sea Harmony anti-terror operation.

"Babacan's visit will make it possible to coordinate positions on the entire range of pressing regional and international issues," Kamynin said.

Lavrov said 65% of Turkish gas imports and 25% of imported oil came from Russia, with Turkish companies also interested in nuclear energy deliveries.

Russian gas supplies to Turkey exceeded 23 billion cubic meters in 2007, including 9 billion cubic meters transported through the Blue Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea.

Commenting on energy security in Europe, Lavrov said: "We are seeking to diversify energy exports, but favor proposing the economy, not politics or ideology as motives for diversification.'

The diplomat also said that Russia had so far honored every commitment on hydrocarbon supplies to European consumers.

Turkey is also a popular destination for Russian tourists: around 2.4 million Russians spent their summer vacations in Turkey last year.

RIA Novosti

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Şubat 2008, 09:58