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Spotlight: Putin-Erdogan meeting to further stabilize bilateral cooperation

Updated: 08 10 , 2016 15:06
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MOSCOW, Aug. 9 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday met in St. Petersburg with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a bid to further stabilize bilateral cooperation.

This is their first meeting since Turkey downed a Russian warplane last November for alleged air space violation.

This is also Erdogan's first visit abroad after the failed coup attempt in Turkey last month.

During their meeting, a full range of bilateral cooperation issues were discussed, including the construction of a nuclear power plant and a Turkish gas pipeline, as well as coordination on regional issues like the Syrian crisis.

The two presidents promised to fully reactivate the intergovernmental commissions on economy, politics and foreign affairs for consultation on details of all-round cooperation, with a 2016-2019 mid-term cooperation program to be designed.

The meeting is expected by Russian experts to speed up the resumption of bilateral economic cooperation, as well as to pave the way for coordination of the two countries' stances on the Syrian crisis.

"Confrontation did not meet the interests of Russia or Turkey. Both sides suffered politically and economically," Dmitry Suslov, an expert at the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University, told Xinhua on Monday.

Another expert, Amur Gadjiev, a research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that the strained bilateral ties have already dealt a serious blow to Turkey, particularly to its economy.

According to Erdogan, the trade turnover between Turkey and Russia once reached 35 billion U.S. dollars, but has fallen to about 28 billion dollars, even lower, after the warplane downing incident.

In this regard, Putin on Tuesday promised to gradually lift the economic restrictions introduced against Turkey, encouraging Russian businesses to cooperate with their Turkish counterparts.

Erdogan on his side assured facilitation for joint projects with Russia.

"We had set a goal of reaching a 100-billion-dollar trade turnover, and we are striving vigorously to achieve it," Erdogan said.

Russian experts said the strained Russia-Turkey relations also had a negative effect on Turkey's position in the region and on its role in international affairs.

Turkey has realized that there would be no support from the West in its confrontation with Russia, while Moscow knew that it is practically impossible to resolve the Syrian crisis and other issues in the Middle East and Central Asia without the participation of Ankara, they said.

Trying to find a way out of the diplomatic dilemma, Ankara has strengthened control over the Turkish-Syrian border to curb the traffic of terrorists, and reduced its support for radical militants operating in Syria, which did not go unnoticed in Moscow, Gadjiev said.

Turkey has been accused by Russia of supporting Syrian rebel groups, and the two sides have also differences on the support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Kurdish issue, among others.

The move toward normalization of relations must be progressive and gradual, Gadjiev commented.

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