The meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi came to a close after taking four hours, with Putin noting that relations between the two countries have almost returned to normal.
According to Press Secretary for the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov, the leaders of their respective countries have “revised the relations”, and then discussed the situation in Syria. Speaking to the press, Putin called the discussions productive, and said that the meetings with Erdogan tend to be quick without “superfluous quasi-diplomatic procedures”.
The presidents have discussed economic issues, in particular the last year drop in agricultural products trade. “In addition to the agreements during the meeting with Mr. Erdogan in Ankara, the export of agricultural products has been re-established. Today we discussed the cooperation regarding lifting limits of other products”, said Putin. He also noted that the trade relations between the two countries have almost returned to normal, with additional raise of 36% to trade volumes.
Erdogan said in favor of lifting trade restrictions with Russia. He added that lifting all the handicaps would let the turnover reach $100 billion. In the first quarter of 2017 the turnover of “mutual economic relations has been over $15 billion.”
The leaders also discussed the situation in Syria. Putin said, that the work of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the region helps enforcing the peace, although long-term stabilising of the situation are now the priority. Erdogan cited the creation of de-escalation zones as a contributing factor to regulation the Syrian crisis. He added that the basis for a political solution has appeared in the region.
Putin confirmed that Rosatom would begin building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, with plans to activate the first reactor in 2023. Russia plans to invest $22 billion in the project.
The sides also discussed the military cooperation issues. Earlier Ankara has made a deal for Moscow to supply them with S-400 missile defense systems. Turkey has already made the advance payment for the systems.
Peskov also mentioned that the visa issue had been discussed at the meeting, with the matter still in progress.
The reason for the political crisis between Turkey and Russia was the 2015 incident with a Russian warplane. In November of 2015 a Russian Su-24 jet was shot down by a Turkish jet in the airspace near the Syrian and Turkish borders. Oleg Peshkov, one of the pilots, ejected himself from the aircraft, and died as he was shot down by the militants from the ground. Another pilot was evacuated.
The relations between the countries deteriorated after this. With no official apology from Ankara, Moscow halted all charters to Turkey, annulled the visa-free travel between the countries and applied a number of embargos to Turkish products. Several Turkish businesses were forbidden to conduct their affairs in Russia. After President Erdogan sent an official apology to President Putin in June of 2016 and shifted the Turkish strategy in Syria towards the Syrian—Iranian-Russian alliance, the economic relations between the countries started normalizing, with further collaboration on the crisis in Syria.