Russia-Turkey relations: reducing tensions

(VOVworld) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s current visit to Russia comes amidst a number of rifts between the two countries. The visit is seen as an opportunity for Russia and Turkey to get closer to each other and build a long-lasting relationship based on mutual benefit.

Russia-Turkey relations: reducing tensions - ảnh 1
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak during a press conference after their meeting. (Photo: EPA/VNA)

President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed on the need to normalize their relations. They discussed Russia’s banning of imported food from Turkey, the resumption of charter flights, the Turkish stream pipeline, the Syria conflict, the war against terrorism, and other issues. Putin said Russia will gradually remove bans on Turkey to restore their relationship before the crisis. Erdogan said he hopes his visit will open a new chapter in bilateral relations.

Visit thaws frozen ties

This is Erdogan’s first trip abroad since the failed coup in Turkey. His military purge has strained Turkey’s relations with the West. Ankara says its allies haven’t supported it and has accused some western countries of backing the coup. But Russia has acted differently and has never criticized Erdogan’s purge. Russia was one of the first countries to support the Turkish government in repelling the coup.

In November, 2015, a Turkish pilot shot down a Russian fighter jet along Turkey’s border with Syria, straining bilateral relations and triggering a series of tit-for-tat retaliations. Moscow issued sanctions against Turkey, and Ankara banned Russian tourists. Tensions eased after President Erdogan made a public apology to Russia for the incident. Prior to Erdogan’s visit, Turkey lifted its ban on Russian news website Sputnik which has been blocked since April.

Getting closer for mutual benefit

Turkey and Russia have an opportunity to refresh their relationship. Although both countries have strived to increase their influence in the Black Sea region and the Middle East, they have avoided discussing controversial Syrian and Ukrainian issues in order not to affect their economic and trade cooperation, particularly the Turkish stream pipeline project, TuskStream, and Russia’s nuclear power plant in Turkey. Before the Russian plane was shot shown, Russia and Turkey had intended to raise bilateral trade revenue to 100 billion USD. Suspending relations with Turkey combined with Western sanctions and falling oil prices has caused significant losses to Russia’s economy.

Turkey is faceing political and security instability. Since the beginning of the year, 7 terrorist bombings in Ankara and Istanbul have killed more than 200 people. More than 40,000 people have been killed during Turkey’s prolonged conflict with its Kurdish community. An internal political power struggle led to changes in the government in May.

Improving relations with Russia will help Turkey get beyond the current crisis and gain important economic benefits. And Russia expects economic benefits from Turkey’s support, particularly in fuel exports.

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