— The Erimtan Angle —

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN:

  Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

 The trusting & open spirit in which today’s talks took place and the level of our trade and economic ties give us every reason to consider that we have come to a friendly country. We have come not only to visit a partner and neighbour, but truly have come to a country that is our friend. The High-Level Cooperation Council, which just held its third meeting, has once again confirmed its importance as a bilateral partnership mechanism that has already proven its worth.

 The Council’s sector-specific expert groups have done a lot of preparation and ensured that we had a very substantive agenda indeed. We discussed in detail a wide range of issues.

 I note that our bilateral trade continues to develop fast. Russia is now in solid second place among Turkey’s trade and economic partners. Last year, despite the general decrease in global trade, our bilateral trade increased by 26 percent, and by a further 14 percent over the first nine months of this year. This is an excellent trend and a good result, especially when set against the global economy’s current difficulties. Our objective, as the Prime Minister just said, is to raise our bilateral trade to the $100-billion mark in the coming years. This is a completely realistic goal.

 We just signed the trade & economic and science and technology cooperation programme through to 2015. The programme aims to bolster our industrial cooperation and develop bilateral ties in construction, the metals industry and agriculture. It also contains measures to promote cooperation in science-intensive sectors such as telecommunications, space exploration and developing satellite systems.

 Of course, one of our big cooperation areas is the energy sector, and here, our work together is not limited to fossil fuels, even if they do play a very important part. As the Prime Minister knows, Russia is always ready to give our Turkish partners a shoulder to rely on at difficult times, and if there are any glitches with energy supplies from other countries, we will increase our deliveries at the first demand.

 We thank our Turkish friends for their decision on the South Stream project. Construction work will begin in a couple of days, and our Turkish partners and friends have been invited to attend this event too.

 I note too our joint plans to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu. This is a big and promising project involving substantial investment – $20 billion. Russia is taking care of the project financing completely. At least a quarter of the total amount will be spent on creating new jobs in Turkey itself.

 We have just overseen the signing of a number of financial sector agreements. Russia’s Sberbank acquired DenizBank, Turkey’s ninth-biggest bank, in September this year, in a deal worth a total of $3.6 billion. This is one of the biggest deals, if not the biggest, in Europe’s banking sector over the last year.

 The Council also discussed humanitarian matters at today’s meeting. Our bilateral public forum is beginning its practical work now.

 As far as humanitarian issues go, education and science are both important areas. I spoke about the nuclear project before, and I want to note that more than 100 students from Turkey are studying in this particular field in Russia. In other words, if the project goes ahead — and so far it is going to schedule — it will help to create a whole new high-tech professional sector in Turkey.

 There is the tourism sector too. As the Prime Minister noted, 3.5 million Russian tourists visit Turkey every year, and the figure will be even higher this year. This is a sign of our trust in Turkey and its government, a sign of our confidence in your country’s stability. This is what you could call ‘voting with one’s feet’ in the good sense of the term.

 Russia & Turkey are neighbours and we share many common pages in history, sometimes dramatic pages. It is very important that we treat this heritage with respect.

We have gone through all manner of events in our history, but this is all part of the past now, and we must look toward the future. It makes me very happy to see that our Turkish friends share this view and that this is what we do.

Of course, as was mentioned too, we also discussed the international agenda, including the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, and the situation in North Africa and the Middle East in general.

Let me conclude by once more thanking the Prime Minister and all of our Turkish friends for these very constructive and productive talks. We have agreed to hold the fourth meeting of High-Level Cooperation Council in Russia in 2013.

Thank you for your attention.

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