Middle East // Events

13 — 17 march 2017

Experts met in Moscow in order to discuss the prospects for a further development of Russia-Turkey relations

Timur Makhmutov

On March 13th, 2017 the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) held a roundtable dedicated to the contemporary state and prospects for development of Russia-Turkey relations at the International Multimedia Press Center “Rossiya Segodnya”. The leading experts on Russo-Turkish relations discussed past, present and future cooperation between both countries. The event was scheduled for the official visit of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey, as well as for the meeting of the High- Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.

The roundtable was opened by Hüseyin Diriöz, the Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Turkish Republic in Russia. He noticed that previous negotiations were the forth high-level meeting between the heads of states since last year. According to Diriöz, the main result was that both countries managed to overcome the definition of “normalization of relations”. The interaction between Russia and Turkey not only returned to normal, but concrete goals have been set for a further improvement of the relations between the two countries.

Pyotr Stegny, RIAC member and Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation, agreed to say that positive assessment emanated from the meetings between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He also stressed that the previous negotiations had a particular meaning, since they have helped to overcome the crisis period between Russia and Turkey, provoked by the intentional crash of the Russian airplane. Moreover, he called the visit as the launch point for a normal mechanism of cooperation and restoration of trust.

 “Our relations have a large potential, which allows us to resolve halts and delays” –emphasized the expert. From the point of view of Pyotr Stegny, it enables to look at long-term relations between the two countries with “cautious optimism”. Russia and Turkey, the two largest Eurasian states, have common long-term interests in the struggle for the change of the world order. Pyotr Stegny stressed that Russia and Turkey are the bridge or the “interface” between the West and the East.

The expert also noted that the platform of cooperation between the two countries remains the Middle East and especially Syria, where have a crucial importance for the countries of the region. He said that the cooperation in Russia-Turkey-Iran format and the negotiation platform in Astana are valuable; this is the “result of collective political creativity” of two countries. He also observed that negotiations revealed the priority of the struggle against international terrorism and affirmed the principle of territorial integrity for Syria.

Vladimir Likhachev, Deputy Director of the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and RIAC expert, talked about energy cooperation between Moscow and Ankara. From the expert’s point of view, bilateral cooperation in this field would be complex. Vladimir Likhachev paid attention to the fact that Turkey has the largest energy consumption among European countered, but at the same time ensures its energy security by diversifying its importers. Turkey also takes the first place among countries, which use renewable sources of energy. Expert noted that Russia and Turkey are interesting as emerging markets, transit countries, sources of investment and as partners of joint projects. Thus for Russia, the priority is the implementation of the project “Turkish stream”. Vladimir Likhachev also paid attention to the possibility of Russian-Turkish cooperation in the nuclear energy area.

Nigyar Masumova, Deputy Dean of the School of International Journalism at MGIMO and RIAC expert, said that economic relations are still going through a complicated period. The expert stressed that the balance of mutual trade remains strongly positive mainly due to energy export. Russia imports mainly finished goods. The sanctions affected only agricultural products (it represents 15% of Russian imports); however, agriculture is a sensitive sector for Turkey, which accounts 9% of its GDP. On another hand, the decline of tourism caused a significant damage to the Turkish economy.

During the roudtable, Hüseyin Diriöz (the Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Turkish Republic in Russia) thanked RIAC for its contribution to the improvement of mutual understanding between Russia and Turkey. He agreed that it is necessary to use new terms in Russian-Turkish relations and noted the importance of development not only economic but also social relations between the countries.    

Hüseyin Diriöz noted the importance of resolving regional issues, especially the Syrian conflict. He stressed that thanks to instruments such as the Russia-Turkey-Iran format, they achieved a ceasefire at the beginning of the conflict. Hüseyin Diriöz said that Russia-Turkey negotiations are not intended to replace the Geneva process, but assisting it. The leaders of both countries confirmed that the main purpose is to struggle against terrorism.

The Ambassador emphasized that the agreement on the construction of the “Turkish stream” is an important achievement between the two countries. Hüseyin Diriöz noted that the first branch of the pipeline will be designed to satisfy Turkey domestic needs. He also stressed that energy cooperation was assigned a new strategic status. In conclusion, the Ambassador expressed hopes for removing soon the visa restrictions and underlined the importance of developing cooperation between Russia and Turkey.

Within the framework of the event, a report of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) on Russian-Turkish economic relations was presented, as well as a compilation of Russian-Turkish relations based on the first 15 years of the 21st century prepared by the INF and the RSUH.

Video of the roundtable


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