A Turkish minister has described Russian sanctions "unsustainable", adding that Ankara is open to dialogue with Moscow to resolve the recent political crisis.
Speaking during Anadolu Agency’s Editors’ Desk meeting Tuesday in Ankara, Culture and Tourism Minister Mahir Unal said that the tourism sector had been affected by the Kremlin-imposed restrictions, but the sanctions are unsustainable.
"Turkey does not want to lose the Russian market in tourism, but we will not depend only on Russian tourists," he said.
Tensions between Ankara and Moscow flared following Turkish F16s' downing of a Russian SU-24 aircraft near the Turkish-Syrian border last month.
On the back of the incident, Moscow tightened restrictions on relations with Turkey; among them a ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey, to where Russian travel agencies have also been told to stop selling tours.
Stating that about 3-4 million Russian tourists visit Turkey annually, Unal said: "We are working on some measures against the sanctions.''
"The crisis will end eventually, but we need to diversify the tourism sector."
According to Unal, energy and tourism always function as constructive factors between Turkey and Russia.
"There lots of Russian citizens who are in love with Antalya (a resort destination in southern Turkey)," the minister said.
"Moscow has been making black propaganda about Turkey, but we will correct the misunderstanding," he added.
Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, with business worth more than $32.7 billion annually, according to Russian government statistics.
It also plays a large role in the development of Turkey's nuclear industry.
Touching upon the ongoing anti-terror campaigns across the country, Unal said the government would continue to do its part to build public order amid anti-PKK operations.
"The Turkish government will absolutely discharge its responsibility until it secures the lives of citizens," Unal said.
Saying that people living in districts where PKK activities are centered are sick and tired of trenches on the roads and begging for government's help, Unal added:
"No one should complain about the anti-terror operations. The government's main mission is to maintain public order.
The PKK, also considered a terrorist organisation by the US and the EU, resumed its armed campaign in late July. Since then, more than 200 members of the security forces have been martyred and around 1,700 PKK terrorists killed.
The group has also escalated its activities, including attacks on security forces, explosives planted on the streets, plus roadblocks and trenches on roads in the last five months.