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SIMFEROPOL, July 2. /TASS/. Russia’s Black Sea peninsula is ready to restore twin-town relations with the cities of Turkey but first expects Ankara’s consistent steps towards reconciliation with Russia, Crimea’s Deputy Prime Minister Ruslan Balbek told TASS on Saturday.
"We are ready to establish twin-town relations with Turkey, but time is needed for this," the Crimean official said. "The apologies were offered with delay and for sure they were made under the influence of external factors," he added.
"The restoration of Crimea’s ties with Turkey’s twin towns will depend on the further steps of the Turkish government after the apologies. The steps need to be consistent," Balbek said.
Twin towns are a form of agreements between towns, cities, regions, states and countries to promote cultural and commercial ties. The pairs of twin towns in Crimea and Turkey are Simferopol and Eskisehir, Yalta and Antalya, Kerch and Canakkale, Sak and Fethiye, Yevpatoria and Silifke.
Amid the deterioration of relations between Russia and Turkey, Crimea’s leader Sergey Aksyonov said in December 2015 that the region had decided to unilaterally sever ties with Turkey’s twin towns.
Belbek also said that today Crimea is ready to establish twin-town relations with all countries. "We are open for everyone without an exception. Crimea today is a territory of stability and peace," he said. "There are many nations living in peace and harmony here, and I would like the whole world to know Russia’s Crimea like this."
On June 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone conversation with Recep Tayyip Erdogan in response to the Turkish leader’s message in which he apologized for the downed Russian Sukhoi-24 jet in November 2015 and expressed interest in settling the situation. The Kremlin received the message seven months after the tragedy. The conversation between the two presidents was their first direct contact since November last year. After the conversation Putin instructed the government to enter into negotiations with Turkey for restoring cooperation in trade and other areas.