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Turkish foreign minister: Time to discuss new prospects for cooperation with Russia

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calls on Russia to fully lift all restrictions on supplies of Turkish foodstuffs to the Russian market
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu  AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu
© AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

ANKARA, November 28. /TASS/. It’s time to discuss new prospects of cooperation with Russia rather than the recent crisis, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an exclusive interview with TASS ahead of the visit of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Turkey.

Russia’s top diplomat will meet with his Turkish counterpart in the resort city Alanya on December 1.

"We should not speak about how to return our relations to the pre-crisis level. We should discuss how to develop them further and bring them to new heights," Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu called to abandon the wording "before crisis" and "after crisis" and view the relations as demanded by the "strategic vision of both states."

"Our government has never looked at relations with Russia from the viewpoint of narrow and limited prospects. Our focus is on $100 bln trade, the Akkuyu NPP, the Turkish Stream gas pipeline and other major projects," he said.

Russia and Turkey have become the two countries that can easily implement these multibillion dollar projects, Cavusoglu stressed. "I’m sure that in the coming years we will have many other possibilities to fulfill these joint projects that due to their scale will leave in the shadow the above mentioned ones."

Turkey and Russia are not just neighbors but are ages-old countries which have together defined the "rhythm of movement in Eurasian geography for many centuries." "We have always seen our relations from this strategic viewpoint. Our leaders have such strategic views for the long run what allowed us to overcome that difficult time in our relations within a short time," he said.

Turkey’s top priority now is to "bring the maximum possible benefit to the people of two countries and the region.".

Trade restrictions on exports 

Cavusoglu has called on Russia to fully lift all restrictions on supplies of Turkish foodstuffs to the Russian market.

"It is necessary to lift all existing restrictions, imposed to reduce Turkish exports of food and agricultural products," he told TASS on Monday, in the run-up to the visit of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Turkey.

"Also, it is necessary to lift sectoral restrictions against Turkish companies and entrepreneurs (who forfeited the opportunity to work because of sanctions - TASS)," Cavusoglu said, adding that he considers it important to "reopen the door for operations of cargo companies," which were also affected by the crisis between the two countries.

Visa restrictions

 All visa restrictions between Turkey and Russia should be lifted, he added. 

"If visa-free travel is resumed, it will have a positive impact on bilateral relations since official contacts between our countries have been stepped up, and trade, tourism and investment cooperation has been growing," he said. According to the Turkish minister, "to develop relations, both countries should exert efforts and be creative."

Cavusoglu pointed out that Turkey and Russia had been intensifying mutual contacts lately. "This week, I will be meeting with my dear counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Antalya. After that, our Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will visit Moscow upon the invitation of his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. Next year the two countries’ leaders will hold another meeting," he added. He also said that Turkey expected these contacts to facilitate the normalization of bilateral relations and help advance cooperation."