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Press statements and answers to journalists’ questions following a meeting with Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

July 18, 2012, The Kremlin, Moscow

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Prime Minster,

Allow me to briefly describe what we did today, what we worked on.

Mr Prime Minister and I had substantive talks where we discussed current issues in our bilateral relations, as well as the international agenda.

I stress that Turkey has been and continues to be our important strategic partner, a reliable partner. In the last few years, we have been able to elevate the quality of our relations to a very high level. Last year our trade increased by 26 percent and reached nearly $32 billion. Given this momentum – and we have every opportunity to maintain it – we could soon reach a level of $100 billion per year.

Our work has been particularly efficient in different areas of the energy sector; we are developing nuclear energy and giving a great deal of attention to infrastructure projects. We are also seeing the emergence of new areas of activity, including in the metal industry.

Turkey is a traditional vacation hotspot, one of the most popular among Russian people. Last year, 3.5 million Russian tourists visited Turkey. No doubt this is due to the quality of the services offered to Russian tourists in Turkey, but it is also the result of a purposeful simplification in the visa regime between our two countries.

We had detailed discussions concerning key issues on the international agenda, including the Syrian problem. Mr Prime Minister and I agreed to hold the third session of the [High-Level Russian-Turkish] Cooperation Council this autumn in Turkey.

”Turkey has been and continues to be our important strategic partner, a reliable partner. Last year our trade increased by 26 percent and reached nearly $32 billion. Given this momentum – and we have every opportunity to maintain it – we could soon reach a level of $100 billion per year.“

I would like to thank Mr Prime Minister and all our Turkish colleagues and friends for accepting our invitation and for the work that was done today. Thank you very much.

Prime Minister of Turkey RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (retranslated): First of all, I would like to express particular gratitude to His Excellency President Putin.

Today, we worked fruitfully during our delegations’ meetings and in our one-on-one meeting.

Relations between Turkey and the Russian Federation continue developing more and more in various sectors: we are cooperating in the defence industry, in culture and in trade. Our nations work closely in the region. We are trying to achieve our planned economic indicators, and by this year our trade reached $32 billion. We have demonstrated the political will to achieve the ambitious goal that we laid out earlier: to increase turnover to $100 billion.

Cooperation in tourism brings good results. As Mr President already noted, about 3.5 million tourists visit our country yearly, and this lays the groundwork for bringing our peoples closer together. I hope that in 2012, these figures will be even higher.

The largest-scale cooperation in our relations lies in the energy sector. As you know, Turkey generates 50 percent of its electricity at gas cycle power plants, and the Russian Federation is our top supplier of natural gas.

Indeed, during hard times, the Russian Federation always assisted when we had difficulties with natural gas supplies, provided us with support and helped us overcome the crisis situation, supplying additional gas.

Now, we are making a gigantic step in our cooperation – namely, by building a nuclear power plant. Investment volume for this project is about $20 billion. This way, the Russian Federation will implement and use cutting-edge, modern technology in our country. We are also planning subsequent phases in carrying out the construction of this power plant.

We cooperate closely with the Russian Federation in launching satellites into orbit. By the end of next year, we will have launched the Turkish GokTurk satellite. We are actively cooperating in the defence industry, and we hope to continue these steps in the future by using our results to the benefit of the entire region.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the hospitality shown to me and members of my delegation.

Thank you.

Question (retranslated): Mr Lavrov made a statement that the Turkish side shared information regarding the Turkish fighter plane that was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea. Is there a difference in the data presented by the Russian side and the Turkish side?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: We simply exchanged information. We did not exchange documents. After the incident, Mr Putin and I spoke on the phone.

They gave us their information and we gave the information we had on the basis of our data, but we did not exchange documents.

Question: I have a question for Mr Erdogan. It is widely known that Turkey is a consistent and very harsh critic of Mr Assad’s regime and is prepared to see it change. At the same time it is known that Russia and Turkey, perhaps more than other nations, are interested in stability in the region.

Don’t you think that if Bashar Al-Assad’s regime is overturned, Syria could sink into complete chaos, which could affect neighbouring nations?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Thank you for your question.

First of all, we share the same views on assuring stability in Syria. We categorically oppose the violation of Syria’s territorial integrity.

You also know that about 18,000 people have lost their lives to date as a result of the actions of Syria’s autocratic regime. This is a regime that mercilessly kills its people. There are 40,000 refugees currently in Turkey, 150,000 refugees in Jordan and 20,000 refugees in Lebanon.

Our view is that in Syria the will of the people must triumph, and we would like for Syria’s fate after Assad to be determined by the Syrians themselves, rather than other alien forces. Let the Syrian people make their own decisions.

In this situation, there are important challenges faced by the UN Security Council, particularly its permanent members. The meeting held in Geneva essentially represents an important ‘road map’. We believe it is possible to achieve results within the framework of the decisions made in Geneva. But prolonging the process will result in the loss of human lives. People are being killed, just as they were in the time of Bashar Assad’s father.

Turkey hopes for an end to these large-scale killings. Let there be peace in Syria. Let the will of the Syrian people prevail and let Syria be saved.

Vladimir Putin: I can only add that Russia welcomes Turkey’s support in the Action Group resolutions in Geneva. This is a good foundation for coordinating positions in the future.

Thank you.

July 18, 2012, The Kremlin, Moscow