Present and future relations between Russia and Turkey discussed in Moscow
Moscow is hosting an international conference titled 'Russia and Turkey: strengthening of multi-faceted partnership'. "The event is timed for the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The conference is organized by the Russian Council on International Affairs (INF) in collaboration with the Center for Strategic Studies (SAM) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey.
The conference was opened by the President of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov, the chairman of Center for Strategic Research of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ali Resul Usul, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Ali Kemal Aydin, and SCO Director General Dmitry Mezentsev.
Moscow is ready for very close cooperation with Turkey in the fight against the terrorist threat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted. He stressed that Russia "sincerely empathizes with the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attack in Ankara on 10 October."
"It is necessary to join efforts to resist this global evil," the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said. However, he pointed out that "Moscow and Ankara have different views on separate issues on the international agenda, and in some cases the positions of the two countries differ."
"The approaches can get closer only as a result of an open exchange of views," Lavrov noted.
The chairman of Center for Strategic Research of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ali Resul Usul, said that "after the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey, the strategic partnership with Russia has developed. As a result, we have created a mechanism through which we can solve all the problems."
"Russia is our biggest trading partner after Germany. We have very close cooperation in the framework of the BSEC. Today, against the backdrop of global turmoil in the region, we need even closer dialogue. Our meeting will serve to strengthen relations between Russia and Turkey," the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza cited him as saying.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Ali Kemal Aydin, also has no doubts that "this conference will further strengthen the cooperation between the two countries. After the Cold War the problem of relations between the two countries became central in foreign policy. This is evidenced by the trade turnover, which reached $30 billion. Tourism and cultural centers also play very big role," he said.
"In recent days, the relations between the two countries almost entered a critical state due to violation of Turkey's airspace by Russian aircraft. We believe that such events will not happen again," the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey noted.
The former Turkish Ambassador to Russia, Halil Akinci, in his turn, expressed the view that "we have never had such rapprochement between the two countries as we see now." "Today it is necessary to conduct a fully-fledged dialogue between the countries and to prevent a crisis between our societies," the Turkish diplomat stated.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexei Meshkov, at the beginning of his speech, drew attention to the rich history of Russian-Turkish relations. "Today we have an advanced multifaceted partnership, an active political dialogue. We are planning to sign a number of contracts this year. Our relations are based not only on a solid contractual basis but also on a well-structured mechanism of dialogue," he said.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also noted that there is the main problem of terrorism. According to him, "cooperation with Turkey in this field has continued for years, and we are ready to develop it further." "Our key task is the fight against IS. I am convinced that we could do much more in this direction together," he noted.
"A turnover of $100 billion is an achievable goal. Turkey has firmly taken first place among our partners in attracting Russian tourists," the diplomat added.
Turkish Ambassador to Russia Ümit Yardim said that "there was a historical competition between Russia and Turkey, but the competition has always contributed to the dynamic cooperation." "Russia is one of the largest economies in the world. And we will expand the potential of our cooperation," the ambassador stressed.
The Director General of the Russian Council on International Affairs, Andrei Kortunov, expressed the hope that today's conference would "draw attention to the challenges and opportunities that exist between our two countries."
"For decades we have actively developed relations with countries and achieved significant results. However, practical experience has shown that the crisis could cross everything. I think we need to think about the quality of our relations. They cannot be held hostage by energy cooperation. Russian-Turkish cooperation in the field of education is superficial. The same can be said about the sphere of civic society," he said.
"We don't use the inter-municipal level of cooperation enough. Turkey and Russia stood at the origins of the Black Sea Cooperation. We can do more than we are doing now in the Balkans and the South Caucasus," Andrei Kortunov concluded.
The chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, stressed that relations between Moscow and Ankara are extremely important for the current political situation.
At the same time, according to Kosachev, a number of external factors adversely affect the connection between Moscow and Ankara. "Russian-Turkish relations are very susceptible to external factors – the crisis in Syria, the Kurdish problem, the events in Ukraine and the reunion of Russia and Crimea," the head of the international committee noted.
In any case, according to Kosachev, the development of Russian-Turkish relations has both political and economic reasons. "We have a common problem, a common enemy in the face of IS. The convergence of the positions of Russia and Turkey on this issue would be a very welcome development of the situation," he said.
"The economy should restrain politicians if they have political differences," the senator stated.
"Contacts between civic society organizations are one of the most important dimensions of interaction. We would like to see a tighter connection of Turkey to the Eurasian process, more active participation in the activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization," he added.
A deputy of the Russian parliament from Tatarstan, Ildar Gilmutdinov, spoke about the interaction between the lawmakers of the two countries. "We always discuss all the issues. We are very interested in these relations developing at the regional level. In the past year, our delegation visited Ufa," the parliamentarian noted. "Of course, we communicate in such international markets as the PABSEC. We are united with our Turkish counterparts on most issues," Gilmutdinov said.
The Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, Alexander Radkov, said that "today, the cooperation between our countries is reaching a strategic level." "The conclusion of the intergovernmental agreement on the opening of cultural centers is a major breakthrough in the field of human relations. The Russian language is taught in all leading universities of Turkey. And the house of the Russian-Turkish friendship was opened in Ankara," he stressed.
The Deputy Chairman of the Yunus Emre Institute, Shaban Cobanoglu, spoke about how cooperation in the field of culture contributes to the development of relations between Moscow and Ankara. "44 of our centers operate in 36 countries. Their main purpose is to acquaint foreign countries with the Turkish history, language and culture," he said.