Putin in Turkey to push free trade, energy deals

Billion dollar fund will serve to invest in tourism, energy, agriculture and transport

Putin in Turkey to push free trade, energy deals

World Bulletin / News Desk

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Turkey on Monday for talks with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pushing forward ambitious joint energy projects as the two sides try to overcome a crisis in ties.

Only a few months ago, Putin and Erdogan were exchanging acrimonious accusations over Syria.

But the pair are expected to reaffirm their commitment to the planned TurkStream gas pipeline to pump Russian gas under the Black Sea to Europe, and the Russian construction of Turkey's first nuclear power station.

The meeting in Istanbul between the two post-imperial strongmen will be their third encounter since their governments agreed in June to normalise ties.

Turkey shot down of a Russian warplane over Syria in November 2015, sparking their worst crisis in ties since the Cold War. 

Economic sanctions imposed by Russia -- now gradually being lifted -- have severely dented trade. And a ban on charter flights to Turkey, which is also now over, reduced the usually substantial flow of Russian tourists to a trickle. 

Putin and Erdogan will meet on the opening day of the World Energy Congress, which brings together players across the energy sector and is a sign of Turkey's determination to be a global hub despite a traumatic year of repeated terror attacks and a failed coup.

Russia and Turkey remain at odds over the Syria conflict, with Moscow a key backer of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad but Turkey making his exit from power its key strategic aim.

Yet Turkey, which just months ago was loudly accusing Russia of war crimes in Syria, has been remarkably tight-lipped over the Syrian regime onslaught on rebel-held areas of Aleppo in recent weeks, as ties with Moscow have tentatively improved. 

 Analysts have long noted an ability on the part of Moscow and Ankara to show pragmatism in times of good relations and push disputes to one side, concentrating on strategic cooperation that includes a goal to reach annual bilateral trade of $100 billion. 

Free Trade deal

Turkey has agreed to sign a joint investment fund with Russia on Sunday, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said.

Speaking to journalists in Istanbul following meeting with Russian counterpart Alexey Ulyukaev, Zeybekci said: “We have reached a significant level in a free trade agreement between countries.”

The minister added they were working on a free trade agreement.

"We have agreed on signing a historical deal with Russia by the end of 2017," he said. 

 “The investment fund will be instrumental for business," added Ulyukaev. "There might be some investment in agricultural industry as well, in producing products with high added value."

 

 Pipeline 

 The TurkStream pipeline is planned to pump 31.5 billion cubic metres per year of Russian gas to Europe, helping Moscow limit the gas transit through Ukraine. 

Of more immediate impact could be forging ahead with construction of the southern Akkuyu plant, Turkey's first nuclear power station, which Erdogan sees a pillar of the hydrocarbon-poor country's drive for greater energy self-sufficiency. 

After an initial ice-breaking meeting on August 9 in Saint Petersburg, Putin and Erdogan met again on the sidelines of the G20 in China in September.

The Russian leader admitted then that there was "still a lot to do" to restore full bilateral cooperation. 

The World Energy Congress is to get underway with a keynote speech by Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih.

Putin is expected to address the gathering later in the day, as well as holding separate bilateral talks with Erdogan.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Ekim 2016, 07:44
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