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Putin, Erdogan may discuss Turkey’s compensation for downed Su-24 bomber

Putin and Erdogan will discuss lifting of Russia’s ban on imports of Turkish products, resumption of charter flights, the Turkish Stream project, Syrian settlement, anti-terrorism efforts on August 9
Presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan  Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, August 5. /TASS/. Turkey has not paid Russia any compensation for the downed Russian Su-24 bomber but this issue may be raised at an upcoming meeting of Russian and Turkish leaders Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said on Friday.

The meeting of the Russian and Turkish presidents is scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg on August 9.

"No, no compensation has been paid," the presidential aide said, responding to the relevant question.

"This issue will probably also be discussed," Ushakov said, without specifying whether it was possible that Russia would drop its compensation claim.

The presidential aide also noted that "much was said" in Erdogan’s letter to Putin in June, in which the Turkish president apologized for the incident with the Russian bomber and these steps in subsequent telephone talks between the two leaders made possible the upcoming meeting in St. Petersburg "and, I hope, will lead to further normalization of the entire range of our relations with Turkey."

The relations between Russia and Turkey deteriorated sharply after a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet downed a Russian Su-24M bomber in the sky over Syria on November 24, 2015. The Russian bomber participated in the anti-terror operation in Syria.

Putin, Erdogan to discuss food ban, charter flights, Turkish Stream, Syria

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey will discuss lifting of Russia’s ban on imports of Turkish products, resumption of charter flights, the Turkish Stream project, Syrian settlement, anti-terrorism efforts and other topical issues at their meeting in Russia’s St. Petersburg on August 9, Ushakov said.

"Topics for discussion will include the resumption of exports of Turkish food products to Russia, with a focus of the Turkish authorities’ efforts to prevent re-export to Russia via the Turkish territory of products from the European Union countries and some other states which are covered by Russian restrictive measures taken as response to the European Union’s sanctions," Ushakov said. "The sides are discussing conditions for re-launching charter air service and this issue will also be discussed by the two leaders."

Apart from that, according to Ushakov, the two presidents will discuss the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, issues of the Turkish Stream project and other economic topics.

Other top-priority topics will include the Syrian crisis and anti-terrorism efforts, the Kremlin aide added.

"I generally agree with the Turkish president’s representative who said yesterday that the top-priority topics of the St. Petersburg talks will be issues of bilateral relations, the Syrian crisis and anti-terrorism efforts," Ushakov said. "The top priority task of the forthcoming St. Petersburg meeting is to establish a normal level of bilateral cooperation in the political, trade-and-economic, energy and other spheres."

Speaking about economic cooperation, the Kremlin aide noted that bilateral trade in 2015 dropped by 26% to 23.3 billion years (year-on-year) and further down by 43% in January-May 2016, to 6.1 billion U.S. dollars (in five months).

"The president will discuss issues of the resumption of work of the existing cooperation mechanisms," Ushakov said, adding that sectoral ministries and agencies will be tasked to resume work on draft bilateral documents geared to remove the existing barriers in trade.

Yet another topic for discussion, according to the presidential aide, will be measures "to gradually lift restrictions on employment of Turkish citizens and companies in the construction projects in Russia. "Some of the large-scale projects in this area continue to be implemented," he said.

The Syrian crisis and anti-terrorism efforts will also be top on the meeting’s agenda, Ushakov added.

The Kremlin hopes that Ankara’s approach towards the Syrian settlement will be more constructive and that it will be possible to bring the stances of Russia and Turkey on this issue closer together, Russian presidential aide said.

"Naturally, the Syrian crisis will be discussed in detail, and we hope that the Turkish stance in this context will be more constructive," the Kremlin aide said. The Russian side hopes that the disparities in the two countries’ stances on the issue will be ‘narrowed’, Ushakov pointed out.

He added that the Russian and Turkish Defense Ministers will not take part in the upcoming negotiations. However, experts dealing with the Syrian issues will take part in the talks.

Moscow earlier criticized Turkey for supporting extremists fighting in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual question-and-answer session last December that entities close to the Turkish authorities purchase crude oil from Syria’s areas controlled by terrorists.

Large-scale bilateral summit in 2017

Russia and Turkey may held a bilateral summit next year, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Friday ahead of the August 9 meeting of the two countries' Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in St. Petersburg.

Ushakov expressed the hope that the negotiations will be "constructive and positive."

"If all goes well - and I hope so, the parties will apparently agree on holding a regular meeting of the High Level Cooperation Council chaired by the two countries' presidents that includes virtually all key ministers dealing with the development of the bilateral relations," he said.

According to Ushakov, if such an agreement is reached, the venue and dates of the summit will be agreed via appropriate channels. "Apparently, it will be Moscow, since the previous meeting was held in Turkey," he said.

Meeting with representatives of business community

The August 9 Russian-Turkish summit in St. Petersburg will include meetings with representatives of the two countries’ business communities, Russian presidential aide said.

Ushakov noted that the two leaders will first hold a meeting in the narrow format and then - in the extended format with the participation of several ministers. Their joint news conference is planned after that followed by the two presidents’ meeting with representatives of the Russian and Turkish business communities.

"A number of our personalities who are well familiar with the Turkish affairs are invited to the meeting with representatives of the business communities," Ushakov said, adding that these will include Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev.

"The meeting itself will be arranged as follows. The two presidents will speak first, then the two countries’ economy ministers will brief those present on the prospects for cooperation. After that a free discussion will be held," Ushakov said.

No documents planned to be signed

Russia and Turkey plan to sign no documents after a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan St. Petersburg on August 9, Yuri Ushakov.

"No, no documents are expected to be signed," he told journalists. "It will be their first meeting after a long break literally in all contacts - political, trade-and-economic and others."

"That is why it is important to have a detailed conversation now to understand where we are and outline possible prospects for further cooperation. This meeting is important and needs not to be supplemented by any documents," Ushakov said, adding that its key task will be to reach mutual understanding on many issues on the agenda, both bilateral and linked with international and regional politics, including the situation in Syria.

The Kremlin aide reminded that the previous meeting between the two presidents took place in November 2015 on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit in Turkey’s Antalya. Resumption of top-level dialogue has become possible following Erdogan’s message to the Russian leader on June 27. After that date, Putin and Erodgan had two telephone conversations and "expressed mutual readiness to take necessary steps in order to gradually restore bilateral relations," Ushakov noted.

He also reminded that the Russian government has been tasked to conduct consultations with the Turkish partners. Thus, the two countries’ deputy prime ministers met in late July. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the co-chairs of the intergovernmental commission. Apart from that, Russian Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev met with his Turkish counterpart. "It was agreed to hold a meeting of the intergovernmental commission in the autumn," Ushakov added.