Erdoğan's Russian visit marks ‘new stage’ in relations

Tuesday's meeting between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin is expected to set a new roadmap for bilateral relations between Ankara and Moscow.

Photo by: AA (Archive)
Photo by: AA (Archive)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on Tuesday August 9, 2016 in St Petersburg, Russia.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, marking the first meeting between the two leaders since Russia and Turkey began normalising relations following the downing of a Russian warplane in November last year.

The upcoming meeting of the presidents of Turkey and Russia is expected to set a new roadmap for bilateral relations between Ankara and Moscow.

Speaking to French daily Le Monde on Monday, Erdoğan said the August 9 meeting was planned well before Turkey’s July 15 coup attempt and said it will mark “a new stage” in Turkish- Russian relations.

According to Russian media outlets, Turkey-Russia economic and political relations and the Syrian war will be the key topics to dominate the visit.

Putin's aide Yuri Ushakov said in a statement on Friday that the talks came after a hard period.

"I hope the talks will contribute to normalising Turkey-Russia relations."

After the Turkish Air Force had shot down a Russian jet over the Turkey-Syria border last November, relations between the two countries soured until the issue seemed largely resolved on June 29 through a letter and subsequent telephone calls between the countries’ leaders.

On June 30, Russia lifted a ban on tourist flights to Turkey following a phone conversation between Putin and Erdoğan.

Turkish and Russian foreign ministers later met in the Russian city of Sochi on July 1.

Putin gave his support to Turkey over the July 15 coup attempt and said he stood by the elected government, offering his condolences to the victims of what Erdoğan called the “most heinous” armed coup attempt in modern Turkish history.

On July 22, Russia also lifted restrictions on flights to Turkey, which had been implemented temporarily following the coup attempt, after Turkish officials assured their Russian counterparts that additional security measures were being taken.

Turkish businessmen hopeful over the meeting

The upcoming meeting is also expected to boost bilateral relations to pre-crisis levels, according to leading representatives of Turkish economy and tourism sectors on Sunday.

“I believe that the two countries can cooperate in many areas and create economic value,“ Tuncay Özilhan, Chairman of the Turkish – Russian Business Council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board said.

Noting that the meeting could also pave the way for new projects, Özilhan said, “This is a very important meeting in which decisions might be taken to boost the [bilateral] trade volume up to $100 billion.”

Başaran Ulusoy, head of The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies said Erdoğan’s visit to St. Petersburg is expected to have crucial and positive effects on both economies.

“The normalisation of political relations and the re-establishment of direct communication will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the tourism sector,” Ulusoy said.

Mithat Yenigün, the president of The Turkish Contractors Association, said Russia was a very important market and not easily replaceable in terms of its size.

Yenigün said the business volume of Turkish contractors in Russia was $5.4 billion in 2015.

“We initially expect the restart of a $2 billion project which was suspended and cancelled after the crisis. Then we expect a gradual recovery, and return to pre-crisis levels."