Putin: We Should Not Only Regain The Earlier Level But Go Even Further
After restoring bilateral ties, Moscow and Ankara should go even further, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference after the talks, Mr. Putin said Russia would gradually roll back the commercial sanctions imposed after Turkish F-16 jet fighters shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November, leading to a diplomatic freeze between the countries.
“We should not only regain the earlier level, but go even further, your [Russian business] active participation will be needed for sure to make it possible,” Putin said at the meeting with business community of Russia and Turkey.”Now we should gradually regain the pre-crisis level. As the Russian saying goes, breaking is not making, that means that to break something is an easy thing, it is always harder to build something, but both the Russian and the Turkish sides are ready to engage in building,” Putin added.
Earlier in the day, Putin met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who arrived in St. Petersburg for first talks to reset bilateral relations after the November 2015 downing of a Russian aircraft by Turkey.
Following Tuesday’s talks, the first meeting between the Russian and Turkish leaders since the plane was shot down, Turkish President Erdoğan emphasized Turkey’s desire to realize a Russian-backed natural gas pipeline called Turkish Stream. Analysts had predicted the meeting would focus on Turkey’s hopes to become a natural gas hub for Europe, and Moscow’s plans to build the pipeline.
During the news conference, the two leaders pledged to talk about Syria, where they support opposing sides, at a separate meeting to be attended by Russian and Turkish delegations. Mr. Putin suggested he and his Turkish counterpart shared an understanding of the need to fight terrorism.
As well as signaling the end of an nine-month diplomatic impasse, the St. Petersburg talks marked the first trip abroad for President Erdoğan since a failed coup attempt last month that left more than 250 people dead.
Mr. Erdoğan has expressed concern over a lack of responsiveness from Washington and Brussels over the coup plot against him on July 15. The meeting in St. Petersburg gave him the opportunity to send a signal to the West that Turkey is willing to court Moscow, traditionally the counterweight to Western influence in the Middle East.