Turkish Deputy PM says Turkey does not see Russia as enemy

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek expresses hope that Russia will 'calm down' after crisis in relations following downing of warplane

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek made an opening speech at the Central Asian Investment Forum in Istanbul on Feb. 18, 2016.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Thursday that having opposing views on the crisis in Syria did not make Russia and Turkey enemies.

"We want to enhance our neighboring, trade and investment relations with Russia," Simsek said during an opening speech at the Central Asian Investment Forum in Istanbul.

The downing of a Russian jet on Nov. 24 by Turkey led to a severe deterioration in relations between the two countries. Following the incident, Moscow imposed a range of unilateral economic sanctions against Turkey, including a ban on food imports.

Simsek said he had hoped that Russia would “calm down” after the crisis. In fact, relations appear to have worsened as Russia has bombed several civilian locations in Syria recently, resulting in mass migrations to the Turkish border.

Simsek also stressed at the forum that Central Asian countries need economic diversity: "They need to enhance the investment environment and attract those investments. In fact, those countries are in a good shape on education and human resources. What they need to enhance is entrepreneurship, investment environment and improving infrastructure."

A decline in oil prices has hurt the region’s economy, forcing its countries to look for investment in other sectors.

The US-based international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowered credit ratings for five countries - including Kazakhstan - on Wednesday due to plummeting oil prices.

Istanbul on Thursday hosted an investment forum regarding Kazakhstan. Senior Kazakh officials have called on Turkish business people to invest in their country.

The foreign trade volume of Kazakhstan and Turkey stood at around $1.8 billion in 2015, according to figures from the Turkish Economy Ministry.

Turkey’s trade volume with Central Asian countries is around $9.3 billion in 2013, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Turkish businesses have invested $3.5 billion in these countries.

TRTWorld, AA