Erdoğan invites Putin to Türkiye as leaders discuss strategic ties - M5 Dergi
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Erdoğan invites Putin to Türkiye as leaders discuss strategic ties

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President Erdoğan and Russian leader Putin discussed commercial ties and energy cooperation along with other topics in Kazakhstan in their first in-person meeting in a long time

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Astana, Kazakhstan, where the two leaders arrived to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Summit (SCO).

Erdoğan invited Putin to Türkiye, and Putin accepted the invitation during their meeting. The Russian president’s expected visit this spring was postponed. Putin said in televised remarks that Russia and Türkiye were implementing strategic projects together, while Erdoğan said they would take significant steps, especially in nuclear power plant projects.

Putin said Russian-Turkish relations were developing despite all the challenges. “There was a drop in trade volume within the past few months but our annual trade volume is $55 billion. We are implementing our projects in a planned way. We will discuss our future goals (to improve relations). We are in close contact,” he said before the meeting was closed to the press.

For his part, Erdoğan said it has been a while since he last met his “distinguished friend” Putin. “We were engaged in telephone diplomacy, but our colleagues are always in touch,” he said. Erdoğan said Türkiye and Russia would take serious steps for nuclear power plants, and discussions were underway for a new plant in Sinop, a Black Sea Turkish province.

“We believe we can take significant steps. Our minister of energy and natural resources is in talks with his Russian counterpart. BOTAŞ (Türkiye’s state pipeline operator) has sincere relations with Gazprom (of Russia). For now, our primary goal is launching Akkuyu,” he said, referring to a power plant built by Russia’s Rosatom in southern Türkiye.

Erdoğan said the current trade volume was small and their target is reaching $100 billion. “We have the potential to achieve it,” he said. Erdoğan also hailed tourist flow from Russia to Türkiye, referring to about 7 million tourists visiting his country in a year.

“We attach importance to hosting Russian tourists in Türkiye and we are determined (to increase this number) as long as Russian tourists love Türkiye,” he said.

“In light of these warm relations, I would like to host you in Türkiye as soon as possible,” Erdoğan told Putin.

“I will definitely come,” Putin replied.

The Presidency’s Directorate of Communications said in a statement following the meeting that Putin and Erdoğan discussed the wars in Ukraine and Gaza and how to end the conflict in Syria and fight against terrorism, in addition to the state of bilateral relations.

“President Erdoğan told Putin that Türkiye would continue exerting efforts for the prevalence of peace in its region and the world. He said Türkiye can provide grounds for reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine to end the conflict first through a cease-fire and then through a lasting peace,” the statement said.

Erdoğan also told Putin that a “fair peace that will be to the liking of both sides was possible,” according to the statement.

Erdoğan and Putin also talked about Israel’s attacks in Palestine and threats toward Lebanon. Erdoğan told the Russian leader that attacks and threats targeted regional and global peace, adding that spillover of the conflict would harm regional countries and that the international community should take action to stop Israel.

On Syria and the fight against terrorism, Erdoğan told Putin that his country was resolute in stopping attempts to establish “a ‘terroristan’ next door” and highlighted the importance of “concrete steps to end the instability that gives a fertile ground to terrorism, particularly in Syria,” adding that Türkiye was ready to cooperate on that issue.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Kremlin confirmed that Putin and Erdoğan would have an extended meeting on the sidelines of the summit. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that the discussions would cover Ukraine, Syria and bilateral relations.

Türkiye is among a few countries that have maintained good ties with Russia and Ukraine during the conflict between the two countries. It brokered a grain deal under the shadow of conflict and hosted prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine. In Syria, the two sides differ, with Russia backing the Assad regime while Türkiye has long opposed the regime’s conflict with the opposition forces. Nevertheless, both Erdoğan and Syria’s Bashar Assad signaled recently that they may take steps to normalize ties frozen since the civil war broke out in 2011. Russia has previously mediated talks between the regime and Ankara, though they did not produce any concrete results. Some media outlets even claimed that Erdoğan might meet Assad in Astana, though neither Syria nor the regime’s leader was officially invited to the summit. Peskov told reporters that Russia was pleased with the peace process regarding Syria and that Russia was exerting efforts on the matter.

“We will be pleased if the process achieves more with the contribution of neighboring countries,” Peskov said, referring to Türkiye, which shares a lengthy border with Syria.

The summit, which will be attended by heads of state and government from 16 countries, will focus on regional security and cooperation in fields from energy and health to education, transportation, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation. The nine-member SCO, which encompasses a vast area from Moscow to Beijing, includes around half the world’s population. Its permanent members are this year’s hosts: Kazakhstan, India, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Iran. This year, Belarus is expected to join after being told at 2023’s SCO summit, hosted virtually by India, that it would become a member.

The summit will also focus on a cease-fire in Gaza, where Israel has slaughtered thousands of innocent Palestinians since a new round of conflict began last October. The gathering is expected to be concluded with more than 20 documents on cooperation and other issues.

Türkiye last called for establishing a technical-level working group to work on a “mega grid” under the SCO. The proposal, conveyed by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alparslan Bayraktar, came on the sidelines of the fourth SCO energy minister meeting in Astana. Türkiye is not a full member of the SCO but has been a dialogue partner of the organization since 2012.

“If the member countries approve, we would like to host the first technical meeting of this working group in Türkiye this upcoming fall or next spring in the year 2025,” Bayraktar said at the meeting. The minister also pointed to the potential among member countries to further improve energy transition technologies and address more markets globally via international cooperation.

“Our countries are blessed with abundant resources, including natural resources like oil, gas, minerals and human resources, as well as institutions like universities and research centers. By working together, we can leverage these resources more effectively and ensure that benefits are widely shared,” he said.

Source: Da,lySabah

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