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Turkey, Russia to sign economic, culture and tourism deals

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A large package of agreements on economic, cultural and tourism cooperation between Turkey and Russia will be signed during the Turkey-Russia High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) meeting on Friday, Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak said, reported Anadolu Agency (Turkey).

“The drop in turnover of Russia-Turkey trading that we saw in 2016 needs to be restored, and this restoration should be gradual and satisfactory for both parties,” the minister told Anadolu Agency ahead of the HLCC meeting on Friday, which will take place with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Relations between Turkey and Russia deteriorated after Turkey shot down a Russian jet over the Turkey-Syria border in November 2015. However, relations between the two countries took a turn for the better following an Erdogan-Putin meeting in St. Petersburg in August last year.

A program of trade in economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Russia and Turkey for the period from 2017 to 2019 has been prepared, Novak said, adding that agreements on this program will be signed by the ministries of economy of the two countries.

The minister also said that a cooperation agreement in the field of mining, as well a memorandum on the creation of a joint investment fund between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Turkish Investment Fund are also among the documents that will be signed during the HLCC meeting.
“In the framework of our cooperation, we are not limited to economic and trade relations, but the development of humanitarian relations in the field of health and culture is also important,” Novak said.

Tourism also focuses largely with documentation supporting the formation of a joint year of culture and tourism between Russia and Turkey in 2019, in which the ministries of culture of the two countries plan to sign.

The Russian minister also noted that economic institutions are also working out the elements that can be eliminated on barriers for bilateral trade in agricultural and industrial goods.
Russia imposed sanctions on various Turkish agricultural products last year, as a result of the jet crisis. After the start of the normalization process, Russia removed sanctions on some of these products, particularly on citrus fruits, however the majority of the sanctions still remain.

TurkStream natural gas pipeline project
Commenting on the progress of one of the most prominent projects between the two countries, the TurkStream, Novak said that the project is progressing according to schedule.
The first line of the project is planned to become operational by December 2019, while preparatory work on the second line to the Turkish and Greek border with the intention of eventually carrying gas to Europe, is being undertaken by Russia and Turkey to determine how to proceed in the route of the project, in setting a timetable for its completion and in obtaining the necessary guarantees for the realization of the project.

The TurkStream natural gas pipeline project agreement between Turkey and Russia was signed on Oct. 10, 2016 and was ratified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 7.
The project, which was announced by Putin during a 2014 visit to Turkey, is set to carry gas from Russia under the Black Sea to Turkey's Thrace region.
One line, with 15.75 billion cubic meters of capacity, is expected to supply the Turkish market, while the second line will carry gas to Europe.

“Russia is working with the Greek company DEPA and the Italian Edison company to investigate the use of the Poseidon pipeline to supply gas to southern Europe,” Novak said, adding that countries in south-eastern Europe, including Hungary and Serbia, have already shown interest in purchasing gas via this route.

One of the other notable projects between Turkey and Russia is the Akkuyu nuclear plant, Turkey's first, which Novak highlighted as a significant project.
A 2010 agreement paved the way for Russia’s Rosatom to construct and operate the plant. It is expected the station will generate around 35 billion kilowatt-hours a year and cost around $20 billion.

“It is quite possible from our side to finish the construction of the first unit of the project by the hundred year anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023,” Novak said, adding that the completion of construction would be possible if Turkey shortens the issuance period of all necessary permits and licenses for the project.

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