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ST. PETERSBURG, August 9. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday his talks with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were constructive.
He said the meeting was of major significance for further relations between Russia and Turkey. "We had a substantial and, I would like to stress, constructive conversation on the entire spectrum of bilateral ties, and on the international agenda," Putin told a news conference after the talks.
According to the Russian leader, today’s talks outlined an algorithm of further actions and steps to restore full-fledged relations between the two countries. "The top priority task is to reach the pre-crisis level of bilateral cooperation," Putin said.
In his words, energetic effort will be needed to solve this "pressing task" as trade between the two countries dropped by 43% in the first five months of 2016 alone. Last year too saw a decrease in trade. To mend the situation, Russia and Turkey will focus on efforts to encourage mutual investments and trade flows, Putin said.
The Russian leader thanked his Turkish counterpart for an open conversation and stressed that Russia and Turkey have all the possibilities to resume normal, full-format relations. "Russia is ready for such work," he underscored.
Transformations in Syria
Only democratic means will make it possible to carry out transformations in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"We believe that democratic transformations can be achieved only by democratic means. This is our position of principle," Putin said.
Putin added that Russia and Turkey had not always seen eye to eye on the Syrian settlement. He added that during the talks the sides had decided to have a separate discussion of the issue with the foreign ministers and security service representatives.
"We have exchanged information and we are going to search for a solution," the Russian leader said.
As for coordination of the two states’ views and approaches to the Syrian settlement, the Russian president expressed the hope that it would be possible at least because Russia and Turkey had a common goal to settle the Syrian crisis.
"We are going to use this common approach as the basis for searching for a mutually acceptable common solution," the Russian head of state concluded.
Common understanding on combating terrorism
Russia and Turkey share understanding that combating terrorism should be the main element in bilateral cooperation, Russian head of state said.
Putin noted that he exchanged opinions with Erdogan on international issues. Syrian settlement will be additionally discussed after the press conference, he added.
"There is common understanding that combating terrorism is the most important element of our joint work, we will discuss it in more detail," the Russian president stressed.
Measures to restore economic ties with Turkey
Priority steps, which do not need any long coordination, will be taken soon to restore trade, economic, scientific and technological ties with Turkey, Putin said.
"We decided to draft a mid-term program, which I have just mentioned, for trade, economic, technological and cultural cooperation effective from 2016 to 2019," the Russian president said. "I do hope that this program will be adopted soon. We will do that in the next few weeks in areas which do not need long coordination," Putin said adding that all issues that needed a longer discussion would be included in the 2016-2019 program.
"Do we want to restore the relations in full measure? Yes, we do and we will do that," the Russian head of state stressed.
"Life develops rapidly. Certain transformations started taking place in life after certain restrictions had been imposed. We should take account of them when we implement plans to restore our trade and economic relations," Putin said. In conclusion, he noted that an agreement had been reached with the Turkish side to continue contacts on a permanent basis.
Lifting restrictions on Turkish companies
Russia intends to lift restrictions on Turkish companies gradually, Vladimir Putin added.
"We intend to lift special economic measures imposed earlier against Turkish companies, restrictions, gradually," Putin said.
The restrictive measures against Turkish companies were introduced after the Russian Su-24 was downed by the Turkish Air Force.
Turkish Stream project
Implementation of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project in terms of gas supplies to Turkey has no doubts and it may start shortly, Russian President also said on Tuesday.
"We viewed the Turkish Stream from the very beginning as an opportunity of broadening our cooperation in the gas sphere with Turkey and with Europe and not as an alternative to the South [Stream project - TASS]. A segment of the Turkish stream was stipulated exclusively for domestic consumers in Turkey in view of rising demand and growing economy of the Republic of Turkey. This segment shall not be subject to any doubt and its implementation may start in the nearest future," Putin said.
Resumption of charter service with Turkey
Resumption of charter service with Turkey is a matter of the near future as Ankara has given security guarantees for Russian tourists, Vladimir Putin said after talks with his Turkish counterpart.
He said the restoration of Russia’s tourist flow to the pre-crisis level is a matter of time. Thus, he reminded, the ban on sales of travel packages to that country was lifted already in late June. "The most important thing is to have guarantees of that maximum security of Russian tourists from the Turkish side and we have received such guarantees from our partners," Putin said.
"In this context, we looked at possible resumption of charter air service, which is actually a matter of the near future," the Russian leader stressed.