Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara after a long day of bilateral meetings. Tomorrow, Erdogan and Putin will be joined by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss bringing peace to Syria in the Astana format.
Speaking first, Erdogan stated that the day’s meetings were a demonstration of high level relations between the two countries. Erdogan then offered condolences to the victims of the tragic fire in the Russian city of Kemerovo.
Erdogan praised high levels of cooperation between the two countries specifically in relation to the Russian construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant at a ground breaking ceremony earlier today which was watched by both Presidents.
Erdogan expressed his desire to see the first nuclear reactor produce power by 2023 at the latest, before adding that President Putin has contributed greatly to the success of the nuclear project and that the second pipeline for Turk stream is under constriction, all due to strong Russo-Turkish cooperation.
Turning to trade, Erdogan expressed his desire to see rapidly increasing bilateral trade grow from a $20 billion a year turnover to one that hits the $100 billion threshold.
The Turkish President stated that he spoke to his Russian counterpart about Syria and praised the Astana format as a vital instrument in preventing bloodshed. He concluded by warning that while some have tried to poison relations between Russia and Turkey, such “provocations yielded no results”.
President Putin spoke of a “very substantive” set of meetings about political relations, security cooperation, economic ties and humanitarian projects. He spoke highly of the many inter-ministerial documents signed throughout the course of the day and said that relations will continue to grow.
Putin stated that Moscow has agreed to dispatch S-400 missile defence systems to Turkey and will furthermore, work to expedite this process.
#BREAKING Russia, Turkey agree to shorten duration of S-400 missile systems' delivery, says Putin
— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) April 3, 2018
When asked if any negative factors could provoke a downturn in Russo-Turkish relations, Putin stated that none exist and that positive ties will continue to grow.
As Eurasia Future reported hours ago:
On the 4th of April, the Presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran will meet in Ankara to discuss the progress of a political peace settlement to the Syria conflict in the Astana format. Today, Russian President Putin arrived early to hold private meetings with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After an elaborate welcoming ceremony both leaders watched groundbreaking on the Akkuyu nuclear plant. Akkuyu, which will be Turkey’s first ever nuclear power plant, is being by Russia’s Rosatom, as part of a wider effort to expand cooperation on energy, trade and cultural exchange between the two nations.
In addition to the Turk Stream gas pipeline, Akkuyu represents one of the two most important shared projects in the field of energy between Turkey and Russia. Additionally, the two countries are set to boost agricultural trade, mutual technological and educational projects and host a variety of events in cities throughout Russia and Turkey as part of the year of cultural exchange. Turkey is also in the final stages of a deal to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile defence systems, having ignored protestations from the US which has threatened Turkey with sanctions if Ankara purchases the cutting edge Russian weapons.
The cooperation between the two countries also includes working closely in the fields of security and anti-terror cooperation. A day prior to Putin’s visit, Turkey issued a fresh arrest warrant for wanted terrorist Fethullah Gulen for his role in orchestrating the brutal assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Sergey Karlov, in December of 2016. Additionally, Turkey has thanked Russia for its constructive role in the Syria conflict as a top aid to President Erdogan said that the success of recent Turkish operations in Syria, including Operation Olive Branch “were conducted thanks to Russia’s support”.
Tomorrow’s meeting of the Astana group in Ankara further cements the wider cooperative effort among Russia, Turkey and Iran to devise a peaceful settlement to the Syria conflict, one in which Moscow, Ankara and Tehran have taken a clear lead over efforts by the US and major EU states, all of which have failed to achieve their goals in Syria.
All of this happens as relations between Turkey and its former US partner become increasingly strained.