Saturday, March 18, 2017

Meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board.

Vladimir Putin attended a meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board, where he assessed the prosecution agencies’ performance in 2016 and outlined their priority tasks for 2017.

Meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board.
Meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, colleagues,

As usual at these board meetings, we will discuss the prosecution agencies’ performance in 2016 and set the priorities for the near future. Last year, the prosecution agencies uncovered over 5 million crimes. Our work must be as effective as possible in all spheres, but especially when it concerns the protection of citizens’ constitutional rights.

In this context, I would like to commend your operation during the election campaign and elections to the seventh State Duma and local governments. The prosecution agencies promptly reacted to violations of the election legislation and worked effectively within the scope of their authority during the election campaign. During the parliamentary election campaign, prosecutors registered 590 violations of citizens’ election rights.

A major part of your efforts concerns, as we know, the fight against extremism, terrorism and the proliferation of radical and nationalist ideologies. We discussed this at length at the meetings of the Federal Security Service Board and the Interior Ministry Board. I am confident that the Prosecutor General’s Office will continue combatting these threats.

Your continuous, system-wide efforts on the socioeconomic front are of equal importance. As you know, 75 percent of labor rights violations uncovered by prosecutors are related to salaries. Last year, prosecution offices helped recover 28.5 billion rubles in unpaid wages. Every manager or owner who attempts to shift the burden onto the workers must understand that he or she will face inexorable consequences.

At the same time, let me reiterate, as I have already said, that entrepreneurs acting in good faith should receive all-round support from the state. In this regard, I would like to commend your efforts to shield businesses from groundless inspections and various kinds of quibbles. I ask you to keep paying particular attention to this issue.

Apart from timely payment of salaries, pensions and benefits, you must also keep a close eye on the housing and utilities sector. It is necessary to promptly respond to complaints regarding exaggerated utilities bills or violations related to the collection of contributions for capital repairs, and poor quality of services in this area.

Unjustified price hikes on essential food products and drugs deserve special attention. This calls for a delicate approach, since inflation inevitably pushes prices up in various sectors. However, what I am talking about is unjustified, overblown prices. We need to crack down on low-quality, counterfeited products. Of course, we must make sure that vulnerable social groups benefit from a reliable safety net, including seniors, children, families with many children and people with disabilities.

You see how people respond to all cases of unfair treatment, indifference and callous behavior by bureaucrats. It is the prosecutor office’s task to gain a detailed insight into each and every incident of this kind. It is important to identify system-wide legal and enforcement issues in order to prevent any conditions and risks that could result in a violation of rights.

Colleagues, another major goal is to fight corruption and crime in general. This calls for systematic, professional work at all stages, from preventing crime to pressing charges in court. Last year, 3,800 criminal proceedings were instituted on corruption charges following prosecutors’ investigations.

We must continue to tighten control, enhance financial discipline and prevent the misuse, squandering or embezzlement of budget funds in the sphere of government procurement, state defense orders, state property management and infrastructure projects.

I ask you to work closely with the concerned ministries and departments, the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the Taxation Service and the Financial Monitoring Service.

We must also develop international cooperation, sign more agreements and improve the system of mutual assistance with our foreign colleagues.

I would like to conclude by saying that our citizens mostly judge the state’s ability to protect their interests and uphold the truth and justice by the effectiveness of the prosecution service. We must live up to people’s expectations, working every day towards this.

I expect you to take an uncompromising and firm stand and to remain loyal to your duty.

Thank you for your work and I wish you every success.

Thank you very much.

<…>

Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

To conclude this part, let me add just a few words. We are all well aware that in Russia the prosecutor’s office plays a special, unique role in public governance. Perhaps, there is no other country in the world where the prosecutor’s office occupies such an important place, and even if this is the case somewhere, it is usually no more than a copy of the Russian or Soviet experience.

As you know, the prosecutor’s office was established as the sovereign’s eye. Fortunately, our country is a republic, not a monarchy, which means that the prosecutor’s office should be the government’s eye when it comes to making sure that the interests of the people and the state as an institution are respected.

The scope of your activity is extremely broad, covering almost every possible sphere of human activity where the state is represented and the law exists. The prosecutor’s office is tasked with ensuring compliance with the law.

As you may know, there are countries aspiring to global leadership, or to be more precise to global dominance, who started creating so-called anti-corruption committees. These parallel government institutions more often than not are used for a completely different purpose of staging manipulations in domestic politics. Of course, Russia would never tolerate the creation of anything of this kind, but in some countries, including in Eastern Europe, similar structures have already been formed.

In order to be able to benefit the people and the state, you must be a) completely and totally honest, and b) effective in fighting corruption and infringements in the broadest possible sense.

Let me once again thank you for your work in 2016. I count on your efforts in 2017 and in the years to come.

Thank you very much.

Link:  http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54035

PHOTO:
Prosecutor General Office’s Board.
Prosecutor General Office’s Board.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yury Chaika.
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika at a meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board.
Valentina Matviyenko, Valery Zorkin.
Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko and President of the Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin at a meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board.
Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Prosecutor General Board.
Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Prosecutor General Board.
Vladimir Putin and Valentina Matviyenko.
Vladimir Putin and Valentina Matviyenko.

Meeting with Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy to the Volga District Mikhail Babich.

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy to the Volga District and Chairman of the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament Mikhail Babich.

Mikhail Babich.
Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy to the Volga District Mikhail Babich.

Russia’s international obligations with regard to destruction of chemical weapons were the subject of discussion.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Babich, you head the state commission overseeing destruction of chemical weapons, in line with our international obligations. I would like to hear your assessment of the current situation.

Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy to the Volga District and Chairman of the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament Mikhail Babich:

Mr. President, in accordance with your decisions, the Russian Federation is carrying out the presidential programme to destroy chemical weapons. Nearly 70,500 tonnes of chemical weapons were stockpiled around the world, of which 40,000 tonnes were here in Russia, 27,000 tonnes in the United States, and the rest divided among other countries.

192 countries have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention. We are now in the final stage of carrying out the programme. Of the seven facilities here in Russia, where chemical weapons were destroyed, six are close to completing their work, as I briefed you. Today, work is essentially concentrated at the one remaining facility, Kizner, in Udmurtia.

Under our international obligations, we must complete this work by December 31, 2018. But if we continue at today’s pace and have no problems with technology, financing, equipment and personnel, we will be able to complete the work this year. I will brief you further on this.

Russia has spent more than 330 billion rubles to date on implementing the programme. Twelve billion rubles were spent on social infrastructure facilities in the regions where the facilities are located – schools, hospitals, roads, kindergartens, and sports infrastructure. These infrastructure facilities are all working in full today and serve the needs of people living and working in the places where the chemical weapons destruction facilities are located.

We have reached an important stage now. Acting on your decision, we have established a working group on bringing these facilities onto the market for further use. We are at the stage in the chemical weapon destruction programme where we can offer these sites to potential investors for future use, so that the investment Russia put into this work does not go to waste.

<…>

Link:  http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54030

PHOTO:
Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Babich.
Vladimir Putin with Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy to the Volga District Mikhail Babich.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

President Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Joint news conference.

Following the meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a joint news conference.



President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,

Today we held the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council. It was marked by a businesslike, constructive atmosphere.

During the narrow format meeting with the President, we discussed strategic aspects of the development of bilateral relations and Russian-Turkish interaction in the international arena to address pressing global and regional issues.

We also held talks with the participation of members of the two countries’ Governments responsible for defence and security, the economy, cultural and humanitarian issues and representatives of major businesses. As we traditionally do, we heard reports on the main areas of Russian-Turkish cooperation and approved the goals and objectives for future cooperation. A number of important bilateral interdepartmental and corporate documents were signed. Thus, we can state with confidence that our countries have returned to the path of true partnership, and multifaceted interaction.

I would like to emphasise that we regard Turkey as a very important partner, and we are interested in maintaining an intensive high-level political dialogue. This is my fourth meeting with the President in the past year.

It is also gratifying that the key bilateral mechanisms were recently re-established, primarily the joint strategic planning group, the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation and the civil society forum. Contacts resumed between ministries, parliamentary groups, and regional authorities.

Turkey is traditionally among Russia’s main trade and economic partners. At the same time, last year, largely due to significant exchange rate fluctuations, as well as world energy prices, bilateral trade fell by 32 percent. Needless to say, neither Russia nor Turkey is happy with this situation. The wide-ranging cooperation programme for 2017–2020 that was signed today is aimed at stabilising the mutual flow of goods, services and capital. In addition, a decision was made to establish a new joint investment fund with a capital of up to $1 billion. You have just witnessed the signing of the corresponding document.

Naturally, energy is a priority area in our cooperation. Russia reliably supplies Turkey with energy sources. The Blue Stream gas pipeline has been stably operating for years. This year, Gazprom plans to move forward with the construction of another major energy route, the Turkish Stream. Two lines with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic metres a year each will be laid across the Black Sea bed. The first will carry the fuel to Turkey’s domestic market and the second – provided our European partners are interested – will bring gas to Europe via Turkey.

The Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation is going ahead with building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey: four power units with an aggregate capacity of 4,800 MW. The project’s implementation opens up long-term prospects for Russian-Turkish cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. We expect Akkuyu to receive strategic investment status in the near future. To reiterate, both projects – Turkish Stream and the nuclear power plant – meet modern environmental and technological standards and will become major elements in ensuring energy security in the region.

The priority areas addressed today include the expansion of industrial and high-tech cooperation, primarily in heavy machine building, the auto industry, the chemical industry, construction and transport.

Ways of expanding [financial] settlements in national currencies were considered. We proposed to our partners creating infrastructure in Turkey for servicing Mir payment cards through the Turkish bank Denizbank, which is owned by Sberbank.

Opportunities for deepening bilateral ties in the humanitarian sphere were considered in depth. The bilateral Year of Culture and Tourism is slated for 2019. The relevant agencies were instructed to step up their efforts to ensure the safety of Russian tourists, who are again showing interest in vacationing at Turkish resorts.

While discussing topical international issues, considerable attention was given to the situation in the Middle East, in particular Syria. The parties spoke in favour of combining the efforts of the entire world community in the fight against terrorism. They noted that largely thanks to the active role of Russia and Turkey, it became possible not only to ensure the cessation of hostilities between Syrian government forces and the armed opposition but also to begin substantive talks, direct and concrete negotiations between the parties to the conflict in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

The ceasefire in Syria is generally holding thanks to the well-coordinated efforts of Russia, Turkey and Iran. The level of violence has declined substantially. We agreed with our Turkish colleagues to continue our cooperation in fighting terrorist groups, above all ISIS, working together through our military and special services.

In conclusion, I would like once again to thank Mr Erdogan, all our Turkish colleagues and friends for these meaningful and substantive talks, as well as for the invitation to hold the next meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council in Turkey.

I am convinced that the agreements reached today will foster mutually beneficial Russian-Turkish partnership in all areas.

Thank you.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated):

Thank you, Mr President.

Ladies and gentlemen, my sincere greetings to you.

First, I would like to use this opportunity to once again thank my friend, Mr Putin, personally and on behalf of my delegation, for the hospitality extended to us.

We set up the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council in 2010. Our goal was to ensure the institutionalisation of friendship and good neighbourly relations between our countries and to take them to a strategic level. We see that over the past seven years the Council has been successful in accomplishing these tasks. Every year we hold high-level discussions on various aspects of bilateral cooperation during the Council’s meetings and then we follow up with the implementation of the decisions taken through our foreign ministries. Apart from opening up new areas of cooperation, we work to broaden our ties.

The sixth session of the Council under our chairmanship has just finished. During the one-on-one talks, as well as negotiations involving delegation members, we paid special attention to issues of bilateral cooperation, summarised the results of our relations’ development since the Council’s last session, discussed problem areas that have remained in our relations and ways to resolve them. Both Turkey and Russia are determined to develop a profound, special cooperation between our countries.

Unfortunately, we lost a lot of time following an incident in late 2015 that was extremely regrettable for us. Despite this, the friendship between our countries demonstrated its ability to overcome trials, difficulties and provocations. Thanks to the joint steps taken in the previous months, we have managed to make substantial strides forward in normalising bilateral relations. In this regard, the talks we held with Mr Putin in St Petersburg on August 9, 2016, in Guangzhou on September 3, 2016 (at the G20 Summit in China), and in Istanbul on October 10, 2016 (the World Energy Congress), were extremely important. Additionally, we have actively engaged in a ‘telephone diplomacy’. Today’s session of the Council is another example of our close joint work.

At the same time, while acknowledging the achievements of the latest period, I am forced to say that the current result does not yet meet our expectations. I am sure that this session of the Council has finalised the normalisation of bilateral relations; therefore, we would like to abandon the use of this word. We hope to continue steps aimed at strengthening mutual trust and putting our economic cooperation and political agreements into practice.

In this regard, we expect Russia’s full removal of economic restrictions imposed on our country. This is the only way we will be able to achieve the previously announced goal of raising bilateral trade to the level of $100 billion. In previous years, we managed to increase the volume of mutual trade to $38 billion, but last year it dropped to $17 billion. Our goal is to make up these losses and reach the previous level.

We expect that this year we will be able to set a new record in our tourism cooperation. I would like to take the occasion to invite our Russian friends to Turkey to discover the tourist, historical and cultural diversity of our country.

We attach huge importance to using national currencies in bilateral trade. We revisited this issue once again today, and we have already given corresponding instructions to our central banks. Therefore, Russians will be able to carry out transactions in Turkey in rubles, and, similarly, Turkish nationals will be able to make payments in liras in Russia. I believe that this will help us lower the impact of the currency exchange rate on bilateral trade.

I am convinced that cooperation in implementing such projects as the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and the Turkish Stream gas pipeline will set an example for cooperation in other fields. The mid-term programme for 2017–2020 and other documents signed today demonstrate the determination and political will of our two countries’ leadership to develop relations. I hope that this will be further reflected in practice.

Another important step, as Mr. President highlighted earlier, is the establishment of a joint investment fund with a capital of $1 billion. The documents we signed today and the decisions we adopted allow us to make up for lost time and will lay the groundwork for a major boost to our relations.

During the talks, we shared our views on regional issues. We discussed Syria, cooperation as part of the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, formation of a trilateral mechanism for consultations between Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey, and the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. For our part we stressed Russia’s key role in resolving a number of the region’s problems.

We once again raised the issue that Turkey, which shares a 911-kilometre long border with Syria, has for six years suffered from the threats generated by the conflict in that country. We stressed the need for solidarity in resolving this issue.

In addition, we indicated that Operation Euphrates Shield, which we initiated on August 24, 2016, dealt a major blow to ISIS. An area equalling some 2,200 square kilometres in Syria was totally cleared of terrorists. Thanks to Turkey’s efforts, we can now speak of the possibility of the total liquidation of this terrorist group.

I would like to underscore the issue of providing humanitarian aid to Syria’s population. I am certain that cooperation between Russia and Turkey in this area will help to ease the suffering of many Syrians. I can say that the Astana talks supplemented and supported the Geneva process of a Syrian conflict settlement and proved successful. This became possible largely due to the will demonstrated by Turkey and Russia.

Without doubt, a successful completion of talks in Geneva requires a serious approach from all parties, first and foremost from the Syrian regime. However, it is time to acknowledge that it is impossible to liquidate one terrorist group with the help of another one. Turkey is a country that has been battling terrorism for 35 years and now it faces a threat from such groups as ISIS, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Jabhat al-Nusra.

Syria’s territorial integrity and national unity must not be jeopardised. We will continue to search for a just resolution of the Syrian conflict in cooperation with Russia. Although we may not see eye-to-eye on various issues, we have so far kept cooperation channels open and are determined to continue to do so in the future. We see major advantages in this approach. We expect to continue our joint efforts based on mutual trust.

Of course, close cooperation between Turkey and Russia, based on mutual interests and aimed at promoting stability in the region and the world may irritate certain forces. However, we will not succumb to provocations and will not allow terrorist organisations to poison our relations.

I would like to once again honour the memory of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, who died in a heinous terrorist attack. I would like to offer my condolences to his widow, family and all Russians. Mr Karlov was a very successful diplomat, who, during his service in Turkey, worked selflessly to consolidate Turkish-Russian friendship. We will remember him as a dear friend of our country and our people.

In conclusion, I would like to once again thank my friend, President Vladimir Putin, for his hospitality and to say that I will be very glad to see him in Turkey during the upcoming meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council. I would also like to invite him to the World Petroleum Congress to be held in Istanbul in July 2017.

Thank you for your attention.

Question (retranslated): My question is addressed to both Mr Putin and Mr Erdogan. A question on Syria. A meeting of the Turkish and Russian chiefs of general staffs took place in Antalya. Turkey is very sensitive with regard to the PYD terrorist group. Is there any cooperation between the intelligence services and at what level? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

We have high praise for the level of cooperation achieved between the Russian and Turkish special services, between the military departments of both countries. It was only due to our cooperation, with the participation of our Iranian partners and friends, that we were able to bring about a ceasefire. In Astana, for the first time, the parties to the conflict sat at the same table for talks. This is a tangible result of our joint efforts.

As for terrorist activity, Russia always strongly condemns any terrorist actions whatever the motives of the people who perpetrate those acts. This is our position of principle, and there is no and can be no change there.

We share information on the fight against terrorism. As I have said, our special services are working closely and we intend to expand this cooperation. We know how complex the situation in the region is, not only in Syria but also in other countries. This cannot but worry us; this is a source of global threats. There are also well-known problems related to the flow of migrants, which also seriously affects Turkey. We understand this and we will do all we can to address all such problems. We will work together, as I have repeatedly said, including at the UN. We can defeat terrorism only by joining forces.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

Turkey and Russia are engaged in complex military cooperation on the Syrian issue. There is close interaction between the chiefs of staff, foreign ministers and intelligence agencies. We are resolved to broaden cooperation in providing humanitarian aid, which would be highly relevant in the current situation.

We have reached a number of agreements on the matter today. This issue falls outside the scope of counterterrorist efforts. Our decisive fight against terrorists, first and foremost, against ISIS, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), People’s Protection Units (YPG), Fethullah Gülen and Jabhat al-Nusra will continue. We must do this because we, leaders and politicians, are responsible for the destinies of the people living in this region. These are the positions we proceed from in our joint efforts.

Additionally, over our business lunch, we discussed the crash of the Eczacibasi helicopter, which took place today at 11.30 in Istanbul. It hit a TV tower in Buyukcekmece. Two pilots – Turkish citizens – as well as five passengers, four of them Russians, died in the crash. In this regard, I would like to extend my condolences to the families of the deceased, the President of Russia and the Russian delegation.

Thank you.

Question: You have touched on the situation in Syria and praised cooperation between the two countries, including their military departments, in fighting terrorism in Syria. What is the outlook for this cooperation and do you think the preservation of Syria’s territorial and political integrity is an indispensable precondition for the resolution of this conflict? And the same question concerning the political and territorial integrity of Iraq. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

I have already assessed the nature and level of our cooperation. As for the prospects, frankly, the situation remains complicated; there are a lot of factors of uncertainty and there are a lot of disagreements in the region and the country we are now talking about, Syria. Therefore, I would express cautious optimism that by working together and bringing in other important players, including the United States, we will effectively help consolidate the ceasefire and, based on that, move forward with a comprehensive political settlement.

Needless to say, for peace and calm to hold in the region and to ensure the restoration of Syria and other countries in the region, the principle of territorial integrity should be observed, and in this sense, the restoration of Syria’s territorial integrity is, in our view, in my view, an indispensable condition for a full-scale settlement in that country.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

Preserving the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq is our top priority. We will not accept the division of these countries. We have deep historical, cultural and family ties with each of these countries.

Following last years’ events, around three million Syrians found themselves in our country. We took them in. In addition, we accepted about 300,000 Iraqis. We have already spent more than $25 billion on this. At the same time, we do not consider this aid sufficient since people in these countries face threats all the time.

However, the Astana talks made it possible to cease the hostilities. A large-scale evacuation was carried out from Aleppo. Due to cooperation between Russia and Turkey, people were moved from Aleppo to the area of Idlib. However, they face threats there as well, which forces us to deal with the issue further. We do not want this situation to continue.

Our goal is make it possible for the people who fled from Jerablus, Al-Rai, Dabiq and al-Bab to return home. In addition, there is the situation in Manbij. In cooperation with Russia and the international coalition forces we would like to liberate it from the occupation by terrorists and ensure the return of the local people to this city.

After that, our main objective will be Raqqa, where ISIS forces are concentrated. According to our intelligence agencies, there are about 3,000 ISIS members in that area. As for Iraq, the coalition forces are also carrying out their assault on ISIS, primarily in Mosul. With every passing day, ISIS forces are losing ground and the city’s residents are starting to return.

Our compatriots, Turkomen, reside in the city of Tal Afar. They were previously threatened by the Hasdi Sabi organisation. Now the threat is gone to a large extent. Unfortunately, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party has had a presence in Sinjar. Now this region is being gradually liberated from it.

Therefore, our main goal is to clear the region from terrorists and ensure the return of the local people to their homes.

Question: Good evening, I would like to address Mr. Putin in Russian.
A ban on employing Turkish citizens and restrictions on Turkish companies are still in effect in Russia. Could you say exactly when these restrictions will be lifted? Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin:

The President has raised this issue today, including with regard to Turkish construction workers who are subject to a visa ban, a ban on work visas. Today, the President and I agreed that this ban would be lifted. This will happen in the very near future. After our agreement today, it is a purely technical matter.

As for other matters related to liberalisation, we will continue to work on them. Cooperation between our special services is very important here in order to ensure security in screening out persons who are undesirable in both countries.

Question: My question is for both you, Mr Putin, and your counterpart, Mr. Erdogan.
Vacation season, the tourist season is drawing near. On this subject, an aspect like security cannot possibly be ignored. If I understood you correctly, this topic was addressed during your talks. It is important to understand whether Turkey can guarantee the safety of our citizens. Can we be sure that nothing will happen to Russian tourists in Turkey? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

The flow of tourists from Russia to Turkey is a significant factor in the Turkish economy. However, for us Russians, for Russia, in recent years, it has also been an important aspect of our life. Hundreds of thousands, millions of people, Russian citizens have vacationed in Turkey and found it very agreeable and friendly. We all know this. I often vacationed in Turkey myself, before I worked here in Moscow, in the Kremlin. And I have only the best feelings and memories about those holidays.

However, now we will not go into the reasons and causes of the decline in this flow again. It is recovering now. We see and we know that Turkey is dealing with terrorist attacks and the Turkish people are affected by terrorist attacks. We sympathise; we share the pain of their losses and we strongly condemn any terrorist actions.

At the same time, we see that the Turkish authorities are doing their utmost to ensure the safety of tourists, including Russian tourists, at Turkish resorts. We very much hope that these efforts will continue and all the necessary conditions for the safety of Russian tourists will be ensured.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

I would like to primarily thank Mr President for the good news that Turkish businessmen and contractors will be once again granted access to the Russian market, so that they can resume their activity with their previous enthusiasm. We discussed this during the talks today.

As for tourism, the life and health of each tourist, no matter if he or she is from Russia or any other country, are as important for us as the lives and health of our citizens. This is why all the relevant agencies are doing everything in their power to ensure their security. Besides, you know that hospitality is in our national character. We hosted and will continue hosting foreign guests at the highest level.

Russia was a leader in the number of tourists visiting our country in the past years. I hope that we will once again be able to attain the previous results and show our hospitality to the Russian people.

Thank you for your attention.

Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54023

PHOTO:
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council meeting.

Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan took part in the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.



The discussion covered the entire scope of Russian-Turkish relations with a focus on the further restoration of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties.

A package of documents was signed after the meeting.

An intergovernmental mid-term trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation program for 2017–2020 was signed, as well as an agreement between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Turkish Sovereign Fund to establish a Russian-Turkish investment fund.

Also signed were a memorandum of mutual understanding between the foreign ministries on diplomatic personnel training and the sharing of informational documents, and a memorandum of understanding between the Federal Service for Intellectual Property and the Turkish Patents and Trademarks Agency.

Other documents concern holding the bilateral year of culture and tourism in 2019, cooperation between the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Turkish Ministry of Justice, cooperation in the small and medium-sized business sector and cooperation between the TASS and Anadolu news agencies.

The heads of states gave a joint news conference.

* * *

Remarks at the meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council:


President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. President, colleagues, friends,

It is a great honor and pleasure for me to welcome you in Moscow at the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.

The meeting in this format is taking place after a pause that was caused by the well-known tragic events. Proactive political dialogue resumed between our countries, and so did efforts by foreign ministers to coordinate strategic planning. The mixed intergovernmental commission and bilateral civil society forum have also resumed their work.

Russia and Turkey have great potential for further advancing their neighborly relations. Together, not only can we make up for the opportunities that were lost, but also raise our cooperation to a new level. At least Russia is willing to do so and committed to moving in this direction.

The President and I have just discussed the most urgent matters on the bilateral agenda, and agreed on the need to strengthen bilateral relations in the spirit of an advanced multifaceted partnership.

As we hold this expanded meeting with members of our governments and business leaders, I hope that we will be able to discuss specific areas of cooperation in the same business-like and constructive manner, as well as outline goals and reference points on all issues on the bilateral agenda.

Let me emphasize that Turkey is one of Russia’s main trade partners, while Russia is a key export market for Turkey. However, we have to acknowledge that bilateral trade has been declining in recent years. In 2016, it shrank by almost one third, all but reaching a level last seen a decade ago. We hope that we will be able to reverse this negative trend as soon as this year. This is what the intergovernmental commission aims to achieve, as does the intergovernmental program on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation to be adopted today.

We also need to further stimulate mutual investment. Russia and Turkey have already reached significant results in terms of mutual investment, which stands at about $10 billion on each side. Of course, much more can be achieved. Proactive efforts by the Russian-Turkish investment fund are also to bring about new projects.

It is gratifying that we have been able to establish strategic cooperation in the energy sector. Turkey is Russia’s second largest natural gas importer. Last month, the intergovernmental agreement on the major project to build the Turkish Stream gas pipeline network came into force. This project will help increase natural gas supplies to Turkey and develop its transit potential.

Rosatom is designing the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, the first nuclear power facility in Turkey. Power Machines is involved in upgrading Turkey’s hydropower infrastructure. There are also great prospects for expanding cooperation in the metals industry, car manufacturing, production of agricultural produce and machinery.

Business communities in both countries are interested in expanding cooperation in such areas as innovation, research and technology. By stepping up bilateral economic ties, we could increase the share of mutual settlements in national currencies, and we know that the President is a proactive supporter of initiatives of this kind. Creating infrastructure in Turkey for the Mir Card Payment System would be a concrete step in this direction, as we have mentioned today during the one-on-one meeting.

Military technical cooperation deserves special attention, as well as contacts between law enforcement agencies and secret services, particularly on counter-terrorist efforts. Russian law enforcement agencies are interested in exchanging information on the movement of persons involved in terrorist activity in our countries. There are good prospects for further expanding cultural ties. In 2019, Russia and Turkey are to hold cross-years of culture and tourism.

Colleagues, before I give the floor to the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, let me say a few words about how this meeting will proceed.

As usual, we will hear presentations by foreign ministers who co-chair the joint strategic planning group, as well as the heads of the intergovernmental commission and civil society forum.

In addition, during the meeting, and at the working breakfast, other ministers and heads of agencies will have an opportunity to speak. I hope that both sides will actively contribute to this meeting. Thank you for your attention.

The floor is yours.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated):

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to see you all here.

On behalf of our delegation, and myself, thank you very much for your kind invitation.

Today, on behalf of our country and on behalf of our region, we are taking very important steps, and I hope that our meeting here will facilitate the adoption of constructive decisions.

In our official statements, I believe we can dispense with the phrase “normalization of relations” because we believe we have already passed this stage on issues such as Syria and regional security. We have considered these issues. We often hold telephone conversations in the course of which we address these issues.

Of course, we should keep our communication channels, our diplomatic channels open. The civil society forum is primarily an organization that provides an impetus to ties between our countries. We attach great importance to increasing our trade and developing our economic ties. We seek to increase our trade.

Unfortunately, recently, the volume of trade has declined, but we set the goal of increasing it and we will certainly work to consolidate the legal basis to advance our economic relations. To this end, we should take all the necessary steps without delay and we should eliminate all impediments to the development of our relations. Those firms and companies that are now represented in Russia should be relieved of the sanctions and restrictions that were imposed on them.

The first point I would like to make is that it is necessary to increase the frequency of flights between our countries, making them unlimited.

Secondly, we should promote cooperation and get Turkish industrialists involved in the supply of Russian-made MS-21 airplanes.

Our energy cooperation is very close today. I would like to mention primarily the Turkish Stream project, which is already under way.

Regarding the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, the rapid implementation of this project is of vital importance to us. We constantly monitor the development and implementation of these projects.

As for our military cooperation, we addressed it in the course of our one-on-one talks. Cooperation in this area is very important.

I would also like to mention our cultural and social ties. We propose declaring 2019 the Year of Russian Culture in Turkey and the Year of Turkish Culture and in Russia. I believe we will successfully cooperate on this matter and formally open our cultural centers.

As for tourism, of course, we have lost some time – time in which we could have been developing cooperation in tourism. Still, I believe we will fill this gap. I believe that we will transition to a new basis in this area. If all the necessary preparations for opening the Yunus Emre culture center in Moscow are completed, I believe we will be able to open it this year. Unfortunately, the civil society forum has not been as active as we expected. I believe we should promote dialogue at the level of subcommittees and chairpersons, and I have already issued corresponding instructions.

Concerning the introduction of visa-free travel, we are also taking action. I believe we should speed up this activity. We know there are visa initiatives even with regard to flight crews. I believe we will be able to resolve this issue shortly.

On regional security, I believe we should work together to stop the bloodshed in Syria and put an end to that situation. Our services, which are responsible for freeing northern Syria of terrorist elements, are doing a very important job, working intensively.

As for the activity of Syrian groups affiliated with the PKK terrorist organization, such and PYD and YPG, I believe it is necessary to completely put an end to their activity in Russia. Regarding the FETO terrorist organization, unfortunately, we know that under the guise of other organizations, they are active in certain Russian cities, as well as in Moscow and St Petersburg. We believe that the Russian authorities will take steps to put an end to that activity.

The new round of tension in relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia is a very important issue. I believe it is essential to begin talks on this issue in the near future. I also think that Russia could play a very important part there.

As for security in the Black Sea region, naturally, security in this area is very important for us, and the BSEC organization has a key role to play here. A BSEC meeting will be held in Istanbul, to which I would like to invite you, and I hope you will be able to attend.

This is what I wanted say at the beginning regarding the issues I have mentioned, and I hope you support me. Thank you for your attention.

Thank you.

Link:  http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54022

PHOTO:
Sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.
Sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.

Signing of documents following Russian-Turkish talks.
Signing of documents following Russian-Turkish talks.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev at the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

6th meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.
6th meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.

Signing of documents following Russian-Turkish talks.
Signing of documents following Russian-Turkish talks.

Signing of documents following Russian-Turkish talks.
Signing of documents following Russian-Turkish talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.

Vladimir Putin with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Vladimir Putin with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Vladimir Putin with Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov at the sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.
Vladimir Putin with Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov at sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council.