Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held a joint press conference following their talks in Sochi
16 may 2009
Vladimir Putin's opening address:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Turkey for finding the time to come to Russia to take part in these talks and consultations.
In recent years, the relationship between Russia and Turkey has been developing progressively, and I can say with confidence that our cooperation has produced very good results in many areas. Let me stress that this progress has taken place in a comparatively short period of time. About five years have passed since the political declaration outlining the main aims of our bilateral relationship was signed in Ankara.
I repeat that much has already been accomplished, but we are not set on stopping with what we have achieved; rather, we are intent on working towards raising Russian-Turkish ties to an even higher level.
Today we spoke in great detail about our economic and trade relations. In 2008, the volume of bilateral trade increased by almost 50% in comparison with the previous year, and was valued at over $34 billion.
Investment cooperation also shows a commendable growth rate; our task is to retain this rate.
Of course, in the first quarter of this year we felt the negative influence of the world economic crisis. One of the other reasons for our meeting today has been to discuss ways to minimise the consequences of that crisis.
Our cooperation is developing in many traditional sectors, such as construction and agriculture, for example. But one of the leading fields in which we are cooperating is, of course, energy. I am referring to the oil and gas sector, the prospects for the electrical energy industry and nuclear power.
We also exchanged views on issues that are on the regional and international agenda. I should state here that in this regard our positions are, as before, often very close or virtually coinciding.
Finally, I would like to mention once again the constructive tone of our meeting. Today's discussions took place in an atmosphere of trust and I would even say friendship. I would like to thank Mr Erdogan for his visit today.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's opening address:
Mr Prime Minister, dear representatives of the media,
First of all, I would like to express my joy and satisfaction with this opportunity of visiting Sochi, one of the most beautiful cities in our friendly, neighbouring country, the Russian Federation. The visit that I have made, on the invitation of Prime Minister Putin, has indeed turned out to be useful and productive.
During today's talks we noted with satisfaction that we were able to raise our relations to the level of a multidimensional, progressive partnership on virtually all key issues in this bilateral relationship. In the future, these relations will have the potential to move to a qualitatively new level.
Bilateral trade between our countries has been making confident growth and by the end of 2008 had exceeded $35 billion. For us, it is particularly gratifying to note the fact that Russian citizens are making Turkey their preferred holiday destination. And that in turn will, in the future, help our countries to come closer together in terms of our relations, and strengthen the solidarity between Russia and Turkey on a regional scale. The current figures for tourism that we see today are not sufficient, however. I believe that we are able to achieve further growth.
We are looking forward to the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014; this is a very important event. You are probably also aware that Turkish construction companies play a leading role in the world market for their sector; taking third place behind American and Chinese companies, according to market indicators. I am certain that Turkey can offer its own special, honourable contribution in making the Winter Olympic Games in 2014 a success.
The fundamental issue for our cooperation is indeed energy. Currently, a significant part of Turkey's natural gas demand is met by Russian supplies. The agreement signed in 1986 regarding the supply of Russian gas via the so-called Western Route into Turkey expires in 2012. Today we agreed that work should begin immediately to prepare a continuation of that agreement. We fully realise that Russia has always been an impeccable partner in gas supplies to Turkey. Quite the contrary, it was always in those difficult times, when we were experiencing difficulties ensuring supply, that Russia came to our aid and increased the volume as necessary. As an individual and on behalf of the entire Turkish nation, I express my gratitude for this.
Nuclear energy is one new area we are cooperating in. As you know, the Russian company Atomstroiexport took part in a relevant tender in Turkey. It was the only company that participated - other enterprises withdrew. And now, over the coming days, we are working to conclude all the procedural points of this tender. Our joint work on the Blue Stream project will continue. We also discussed the possibility of electricity supplies from Russia to Turkey.
In addition, we mentioned one question that I personally believe to be highly important: that is regarding the possibility of transferring the calculations of mutual trade between our countries into our national currencies. I am certain that any transfer would help decrease exchange rate risks and would correspond to both countries' interests.
We agreed that shortly, in June, we will hold a routine meeting of the joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation in Turkey.
We also discussed a series of highly important questions regarding Russian-Turkish cooperation on a regional level.
As you know, Turkey has been elected to be a non-permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations for the period 2009-2010, with the Russian Federation being a permanent member of the Security Council. We are certain that this situation means we bear a particular responsibility for what transpires in our region, requiring us to take the requisite steps in that area - together. We are duty-bound to take decisions in the interests of ensuring regional security.
Issues of similar importance include: the Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Middle East question, the situation in Cyprus. I am confident that we can significantly encourage progress in resolving these questions through our joint efforts, undertaken in a spirit of solidarity.
I would like to thank my colleague once again for this meeting, and for the fact that it has taken place in such a fruitful and positive manner, in such a productive tone.
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Question: Mr Putin, you said that Russia has become Turkey's main trading partner, and that energy is the priority within this partnership. The Prime Minister of Turkey also spoke about this. In what way can you establish priorities in energy cooperation between Russia and Turkey? Have you discussed specific projects, in particular the project known as Blue Stream-2?
Vladimir Putin: Russia and Turkey have indeed become very important trading partners for each other. In terms of trade turnover, which according to our information is in excess of $34 billion, and according to Turkish information is a little over $35 billion, Russia is first among Turkey's foreign partners, having overtaken Germany. In terms of trade volume, Turkey is in 5th in our relations with other countries, having exceeded major powers such as the United States of America.
We are neighbours, and that is why energy is a key question. We are diversifying our energy contacts. The Prime Minister has already mentioned our company's participation in a tender for the construction of a nuclear power plant; I am referring to our companies' possible involvement in the construction of four major nuclear power facilities.
We are willing to take part in the construction of a CHP (combined heat and power station) with the supply of additional volumes of gas for fuel generation. Turkey came third in Europe in terms of Russian gas supply, after Germany and Italy. Last year it amounted to nearly 24 billion cubic metres - to be precise, 23.9.
According to the calculations of both Russian and Turkish analysts, by 2015 Turkey's demand for natural gas will grow - and significantly so.
Today, the Prime Minister and I have agreed that we will soon begin talks regarding the extension of one of the contracts that will expire in 2011, and which relates to the supply of 6 billion cubic metres of gas. We will consider the specific feasibility of building a second branch of the Blue Stream-2 gas pipeline. One can say that from today this has become planned practical work.
Question: A question for both Prime Ministers. Or more precisely, two questions. The first is about the Nagorno-Karabakh question. It has always been described that Russia is a key party in the process of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But here as we understand, everything becomes held up on the ineffective work done by the (OSCE) Minsk Group, which has been functioning for 17 years already. Did you two discuss this issue and did you make any positive, productive decisions from the point of view of Turkey?
The second question. Did you discuss any definite gas agreements? And the third question leading on from that: it has been constantly said that the Russian and Turkish governments are on excellent terms. This is indeed the case. But this wonderful atmosphere which reigns at the highest level does not always trickle down below to where there are serious problems, for example in mutual quotas for transit freight carriers.
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the complex issues we have inherited, which of course includes the Karabakh question, a compromise must be found by the participants of the conflict themselves. All other states, those who are able to help them reach this compromise, can fulfil only that role of negotiator, and the guarantor that those agreements reached are to be fulfilled. And both Turkey and Russia have an interest in these, and similar, problems being resolved. We will facilitate that in every possible way.
Now, regarding the fact that we have very good relations at the highest level. Mr Erdogan and I are on friendly terms, I can confirm that. And today we are talking about the results of this: $35 billion in trade turnover between our two countries. It is only natural that Russia is becoming one of Turkey's primary economic partners. And consider how much money Turkish construction companies make on the Russian market, tens of billions of dollars. Is that not a result? And the way our positions coincide on the international stage?
You know that each winter for the last six years several partners have halted their gas supply to the Turkish market due to objective circumstances beyond their control. In winter, at the most difficult time. And each year, in response to the request from our Turkish friends, we have increased our supply: by a large amount. Last winter's supply increased from 28 to 49 million cubic metres per day to ensure that businesses worked unhindered, while ensuring normal social conditions. Of course, so large a quantity causes many problems and complications. The only places which experience none of these is where no-one is doing anything. There everything is fine, but where people are working, such as my work with the Prime Minister, then there are of course problems.
The Prime Minister today raised some questions regarding customs issues, and in cooperation on transport. We will give these matters additional attention. We will do what we can to remove all these concerns, all the problems that have arisen in those involved in economic activity abroad. We will together tackle bureaucracy. The Prime Minister gave us a good example in this regard from inside his own country. We will follow his example.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Among other matters, I have invited His Excellency to our country. We will meet very soon in Turkey. We will once again consider those questions we have discussed here, and take the necessary further steps.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.