Press-Conference of Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan (Full Speech Transcript)


V. Putin: Dear Mr. President! Ladies and Gentlemen!

We have just completed the main part of the talks with the President Erdogan. It is clear that this meeting is very important for the further fate of the Russian-Turkish relations.

We had substantive and – I would like to emphasize –constructive dialogue on the various aspects of bilateral relations, as well as on the international agenda.

The history of relations between our countries were different, sometimes very difficult and even dramatic, but the logic of inevitable mutual respect prevailed.

First of all, I would like to note that, despite the difficult political situation in Turkey, Mr. Erdogan had an opportunity to come to St. Petersburg, and this step will certainly demonstrates our  Turkish partners’ interest to restore the cooperation with Russia.

Today, we are first in small group and then in expanded one, together with the heads of ministries and departments, the heads of large companies, have outlined an algorithm for further action and the key objectives for the effective recovery of the interactive interstate relations. The the pre-crisis level of bilateral cooperation is our priority.

It is really an urgent task, as the volume of Russian-Turkish trade turnover fell by 43 per cent during the first five months of the current year. Last year the decline was 23-26 percent, it is clear that the trend is quite oppressive. We have hard work to reanimate trade and economic cooperation. This process has already started, but it will require much time.

An important step was the visit of representatives of the Turkish government economic bloc delegation to Moscow in late July to negotiate with the Russian colleagues.

We paid special attention to the investment capacity, trade flows, perspective projects implementation. It is very important that we support our business community. After the press conference we will have more opportunity to discuss these issues in detail with the heads of major companies of both countries. We intend to cancel gradually special economic measures previously adopted against Turkish companies. The Governments are preparing draft medium-term programs of trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation for 2016-2019.

We have agreed with the President to resume regularly the work of the main interaction mechanisms. The session of the mixed Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation is scheduled in autumn. The appropriate agencies of both countries were instructed to arrange the meeting of the joint strategic planning group in the first half of 2017.

In this regard, I would like to note that the energy has been for a long time a key sphere of economic and trade cooperation between Russia and Turkey. In this term, we discussed the major joint projects in this area, their continuation will require specific policy decisions. Incidentally, I would like to note that certain decisions on a number of large-scale projects that were discussed earlier were already taken by the Turkish side: for example, such as the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and the Turkish Stream gas pipeline system.

the return of our tourists to Turkey is also on the agenda. In late June, the ban on tour selling to Turkey was lifted. I believe that the pre-crisis tourist flow index is a question of time. The main issue for Turkish side is to ensure of maximum security for Russian citizens, and our partners guaranteed it. In this regard, we regarded the possibility to lift the ban on charter air service. Itlikelydependsoftechnologyandtimetoo.

The talks had the question of the abolition of restrictions on Turkish citizens and companies involvement in construction contracts implementation on its agenda. We're working on it, we will solve it soon. At the same time, I would like to note that bilateral cooperation in some large-scale projects won’t stop. For example, the Western High-Speed ​​Diameter central part is planned to be opened at the end of the year here, in St. Petersburg. It is being built jointly by the Turkish general contractor and the Italian company.

We thoroughly exchanged views on current international problems. By the way, we have agreed that after the press conference we will discuss all issues on the Syrian crisis. There is a general understanding, I am sure that the fight against terrorism is an important element of our cooperation, and we'll discuss it in details.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Erdogan for a frank conversation, which took place today. The talks have confirmed that our countries have opportunities to restore relationship that would strengthen stability, not only in our region, but also in the world. Russia is ready for such cooperation.

Thank you for your attention.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Dear Mr. President, my friend. Dear ministers. Dear journalists. Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to express my sincere greetings and my respect to you and above all to thank my dear friend Vladimir Putin for his invitation and for the warm welcome that he gave to me.

Today, respected President Vladimir Putin and I held very comprehensive and substantive talks. As you know,it was the first talks after the notorious event and after a long period, this is our first meeting face to face. In addition, after the coup attempt on July 15 in Turkey, my first visit abroad was made to Russia.

We want to restore our relations; both sides are determined to restore our relations to the pre-crisis level and even to the higher level. We have the political will to do so. I think that the society of our countries expect it.

As a result of the negotiations that we held today, political, socio-economic, cultural and humanitarian relations between Russia and Turkey will finally reach the deserved level, the pre-crisis level.

In addition, it is necessary to restore the charter air flights, air flights between the two countries, to cancel those restrictive measures, which were adopted against the Turkish agricultural products, to give way to the Turkish construction companies’ activities. I hope that we together, step by step, will take all necessary steps to reach the objectives.

Of course, I would like especially to say that we are ready to provide the status of the Akkuyu strategic investment project, and we have reached agreements on this issue. Weintendtodevelopcooperationinthedefenseindustry.

As for the regional issues in Russia, in Turkey and in Azerbaijan, we have launched the mechanism of trilateral ties, we appreciate it very positively. In addition, large-scale projects such as the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant construction are extremely important, and we need to actively contribute to them. As a result of these steps, I hope that our friendship:Aaxis Moscow- Ankara, will be restored.

Speaking of friendship, I can not ignore the more one case. On the 15th -16th July, our country faced the most violent, the most bloody coup attempt. Members of the terrorist group of Fethullah Gülen, attempted the coup, which was aimed to overthrow our government. It was a coup attempt against our democracy. And we will continue to confront them in solidarity with our friends.

In addition, the Turkish Stream project also will be implemented. We will take the urgent steps to ensure the Russian gas supply to Europe through this pipeline together with our ministries and departments.

Next day after that coup, the President Vladimir Putin called us, it's really important for us psychologically, it was a kind of moral support and solidarity from Russia toward Turkey.

Dear journalists, the Turkish-Russian relations are not only economic and trade relations. We also hope that their recovery, their normalization will bring peace and stability to the region, and this is very important. In addition, we will have a meeting in a narrow composition later, and we will have the opportunity to discuss these issues.

In recent years, the relations between Russia and Turkey, due to the political will of both countries leaders and with the support of both countries public opinion, really reach the level, which can be an example to other countries. We have a common vision; we have the potential for cooperation. These are our achievements.

Today, my dear friend Vladimir Putin and I found, showed a similar position on our relations normalization of, and the capacities of both countries must be used for the stability in the region. We believe that the Russian-Turkish relations are now much more stable than they have ever been, and they will help us to confront all possible crises.

Let me conclude by thanking my dear friend Vladimir Putin and expressing my respect and love toward journalist and audience on my own behalf and on behalf of the Turkish delegation.

Q: My question is addressed to both presidents: first to the Turkish President, and then Mr. Putin.

Of course, from the view of the situation in Syria, there were several disagreements between both countries, both leaders. However, both countries now call for democratic changes in the country, and you mentioned it.

Have you discussed the Syrian crisis today? And what possible road map will be worked out by both countries to provide democratic changes in the country to solve this crisis?

R. Erdogan: First of all, during the talks, we haven’t discussed this issue yet. After the press-conference we are to do it, we are to regard it in details. So I can not answer this question now, as we haven’t discussed it yet.

V. Putin: I confirm that information that was said by our guest, by Turkish president. It is know that our views on the crisis settlement haven't always coincided. We agreed to meet after this part with the ministers of foreign affairs, with the representatives of the special services to exchange the information and to find a decision.

You have been talking about democratic changes. We believe that the democratic changes can be reached only thought democratic measures. Thisisourprincipled position.

As for agreement on our views and approaches, I believe that it is possible too, as we have common goal to solve the Syrian crisis. And I believe that on that platform, based on the common approach we will be finding the acceptable common decision.

Q: Mr. Putin, you have been talking about the need to reconstruct the trade and economic relations between the two countries and, in particular, some reached agreements on major projects. If it is possible, I would like to clarify for the Russian side, which project is more than a priority: the South Stream, taking into account statement, in particular, from Sofia, or the Turkish Stream, as you have agreed today on general cooperation between Russia and Turkey? Or is there some possible compromise for these two projects?

Mr. Erdogan, you talked about the fact that you are interested in the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant project and even provided a new status for the project. But I understand that it is necessary to continue to adopt a number of laws in Turkey to obtain the licenses. When can we expect practical steps on this issue? Thank you.

V. Putin: We have never politicized economic cooperation. We were based on the possibility that our gas can supply directly the EU consumers thought southern Europe, initially offering the South Stream project. But first, the European Parliament adopted a decision that prevented this project implementation, then the European Commission has sent a letter to the Bulgarian government demanding to end the preparatory, and in the end we did not get the permission from the Bulgarian authorities to draw the pipeline on the Bulgarian territory.

Yes, now we can see and know that the Bulgarian side want to revive this project, but we suffered certain losses after the refusal of the European partners. Now the intentions are not enough for us, we need absolutely firm legal guarantees. But we have no them.

We initially regarded the Turkish stream not as an alternative to the South one, but as an opportunity to expand our cooperation in the gas sector and to Turkey and to Europe. One part of the Turkish stream provides for internal Turkish consumers due to increasing needs and the growth of Turkey's economy. Today, as we said, this part is not doubtful, its implimentation could begin as soon as possible.

The second part is the energy routing to Europe, but it depends, of course, from a third side. We need to work through these issues with European countries and with the European Commission in Brussels. We, together with our Turkish partners, friends, are ready for this work, but, I repeat again, it is necessary to negotiate with all sides.

As for any settlement, we should congratulate our Turkish colleagues, comparing to the South Stream project, even despite the crisis in our relations, the Turkish side was working, and the basic permissions issues om the Turkish Stream were elaborated and adopted. There are still some issues that require further permission, we are now discussing it separately.

As for the Akkuyu, there are some changes in Turkish law, in three law. We raised the question of the provision of the strategic investment draft status, today we have a positive response. It shows that these large-scale projects, and we are talking about the projects, which are about dozen billion dollars, are quite possible to implement. I hope that it will be so.

R. Erdogan:

As for the Akkuyu project. In fact, what people expected from us is that we give it a status of a strategic investment. And from this point of view, we discussed it with friends, discussed it with our colleagues, we intend to make a decision as soon as possible and give the Russian project of the status of strategic investment. Thus, the Akkuyu project will take its place among the other projects in our country and will receive all necessary benefits that this status provides.

With regard to other issues, such as the Turkish Stream, as you know, we buy the 28 billion cubic meters of gas from the Russian Federation: 18 billion for government agencies, state-owned, and 10 billion for private. Thus, we intend to implement this project in two ways, one of which supply of Russian gas to Europe, so we have to accelerate it, it is one of our current objectives. Ithinkit'sright.

Thank you.

V. Putin: You know, I would like to add that our cooperation is not limited by energy or by natural gas or by power plant; it is quite multilateral: it is machine-building, metallurgical industry, and trade in full its sense: we talked a lot about the restoration of agricultural supply. It would be arranged within the framework of the plans which were formed today.

Q: The question to both leaders. First of all, I would like to ask Mr. Putin. As we understand, you insist on restoring the relations at the pre-crisis level. But you also can tell, is there some sort of need, is any time needed for this, and if it takes time, what timetable do you need for it? Also, you said about simplifying the visa regime between two countries. Are you going to use it back?
Mr. Erdogan, I have a question for you. We see that the relations have entered a new phase, but in addition, you have said that it is very satisfied and grateful to Putin for his phone call after a coup attempt. And I want to [ask] is in the light of the state of Turkish-American relations: Is it possible to characterize the relations between Turkey and Russia as strategic? Has a new stage of strategic relations had started?

V. Putin: As for the restoration of relations in full scale: whether we like it or not? Yes, we want it. And we will do it. Life is changing rapidly. After certain restrictions, within these limits in life began to happen certain transformation. We should consider these transformations in implementing recovery plans for our trade and economic ties.
In this regard, we decided at the government level to prepare a medium-term program, I have just talked about it, trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation for 2016-2019. I hope that this program will be adopted in the near future. In those areas, on those issues which do not require a particularly long negotiation between agencies, we expect to carry out it in the coming weeks. Those that will require a longer negotiation, will be incorporated in this same medium-term program. Therefore, I suggest you to see the work of our Intergovernmental Commission and departments.
We just agreed that the colleagues will continue contacts outside the framework of the bureaucratic regime and will have constant contacts. A number of issues are to be taken in the near future.
As for visa issues, yes, they should be resolved too, bearing in mind that one way or another it relates to the issues of economic cooperation. Today our Turkish partners pointed out that in the field of transport, rail transport, air service due to visa restrictions, economic restrictions appeared. That's all we need to consider to settle the questions of economic cooperation.

R. Erdogan: Thank you, Mr. President!
You are asking me make the comparison, apply the analogy, but I can tell you: the Russian-Turkish relations in economic terms achieved 35 billion dollars turnover. We are two countries that have been able to do it. And of course, after the last year events, our turnover has fallen to about 28 billion, then even lower.
We have a mechanism such as SWOT, high-level cooperation, which allow assumes this kind of strategic cooperation. And we have carried their cooperation within the framework of this mechanism. We hope to be able to hold the next year SWOT meeting to restore our partnership with the point adopted in St. Petersburg.
If you remember, we had a goal to reach $100 billion turnover, and we will vigorously aim to achieve this goal. Today, I can tell you, we started the process, we begin to move towards our goal.
I have to make another conclusion, in the tourist flow term, of course, Turkey had a serious income from the Russian tourists’ visits, and this made our nations closer. I believe, we shouldn’t leave aside this process. As a result of our recent negotiations, Mr President said to accelerate the process of restoring charter air flights between the two countries. This process is very important sign that this rapprochement will go even faster.
Thank you.

Q: Mr. Putin, recently, once again, foreign media began to discuss Americans paying $ 400 million in cash to Iran. There is an official version: it is a payment for the 1979 arms supply. But another version says that it is a ransom for Americans releasing from Iranian prison. I remember your recent meeting with the US Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, where you say that Obama fulfilled a request for the release of the Americans. I would like to know the details of the special operation. Do the planes from Washington fly to us with millions of dollars in cash too? Thank you.

V. Putin: I can understand you feel of irony. I would like to say that we do not share and bailout, but, in fact, a few months ago, the USA came to us with a request to assist in releasing an American citizen, who was on the territory of the Syrian Republic. We did it after the appropriate work. It was not a special operation, we just agreed with the authorities of Syria, received the man and sent him the American side: of course, without any funds and compensation, performing on the basis of humanitarian considerations. That’s all. If you have the opportunity to help people who find themselves in a difficult situation as the American citizen, we are ready to do it one more time in the future for any state citizens. We hope that with regard to our citizens, our partners will do the same.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the media, thank the President for his visit, because he brought such a representative delegation of the Turkish Republic government and business community.
I would like to say that, indeed, we have gone through a very difficult moment in our bilateral relations, but we would like, and we feel that our Turkish friends would like too, to overcome these difficulties in the interests of Turkish and Russian citizens.
The highest interests of our peoples, our countries need to restore the level of our bilateral relations, and not only for pragmatic reasons, but also for long-term good-neighborliness and friendship between the peoples of Turkey and the Russia.
Thank you.

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