How Robust are Turkey Russia Relations? EurAsian Times

How good are Turkey Russia Relations? Despite initial hiccups between both the nations and despite Turkey being a NATO member, Turkey Russia Relations seems to be thriving. Recently, Turkey and Russia signed a loan agreement on the purchase of S-400 systems. The signing of the agreement took place in Ankara. As reported by the Hurriyet Newspaper and Tass, Turkey will pay for the systems independently while the other part will be a loan from Russia. Here is an analysis by on Turkey Russia Relations by EurAsian Times

Turkey Russia Relations: Legal Agreements

The legal structure for economic cooperation between Turkey and Russia includes about 20 agreements, including an accord on trade and economic cooperation, a long-term program for the expansion of trade, economic, industrial and technical cooperation, an agreement on collaboration in the field of energy, an agreement on the improvement and security of capital investments and an agreement on maritime transport.

Key Economic Indicators

Since the beginning of the 2000s, bilateral economic relations between Russia and Turkey have developed quite dynamically. From 2002 to 2014, trade turnover increased more than sixfold: from $ 5 billion to $ 31 billion (the peak of the turnover was in 2012 – $ 33 billion).

Against the backdrop of a major diplomatic crisis when the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24M bomber in Syria, Russia imposed sanctions against Turkey. There was a  ban on the import of various types of Turkish goods including fruits, vegetables, flowers, recruitment of Turkish nationals, and a ban on the construction and tourism industry. The charter air transportation between Russia and Turkey was halted and a ban on the sale of tourist tours was put in effect, and joint ventures, especially in the energy sector, were suspended.

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Normalization of Turkey Russia Relations

In 2016, following the talks between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, relations between two nations slowly began to normalize. The ban on tours to Turkey was cancelled, and restrictions on charter flights were lifted.

Later, the Turkish fruits and vegetables were allowed to enter the Russian Federation The diplomatic normalization of relations between Moscow and Ankara progressed steadily which not only led to the resumption bilateral trade but also the resuming the cooperation in many sectors including gas, nuclear projects and tourism.

Turkey Russia Cooperation in Engineering

The largest Russian investment project in Turkey is the construction of the first Turkish nuclear power plant Akkuyu. The intergovernmental accord on the construction of four power units with a total capacity of 4800 MW was inked on the model of BOO (build-own-operate). In October 2016, NPP construction works began to work to design, build, maintain, operate and decommission the plant. In February 2017, the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency approved the design parameters of the nuclear power plant site. The first power unit is to be commissioned by 2023 with estimated costs at $ 22 billion.

Cooperation in the Gas Sector

At present, Russia is transporting gas to Turkey via the Blue Stream gas pipeline, as well as along the Transbalkan gas pipeline. Russia provides about 60% of Turkey’s natural gas requirements, supplying about 27 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

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Boosting of Turkey Russia Relations in Defense

Turkey became the first NATO country to obtain Russian weapons: between 1993 and 1995 contracts were signed for the delivery of various armoured carriers, and Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters. Turkey also shopped for machine guns of AK series, sniper rifles and hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers.

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In 2008, Russia and Turkey signed a contract for the supply of 80 anti-tank missile systems “Kornet-E” to Turkey. In 2016, Turkey and Russia were negotiating on the purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems. The total cost of S-400 is estimated to be around $2 billion and delivery is expected to begin in 2019. The signing of the S-400 agreement took place in Ankara recently where Turkey will pay for the amount for the systems independently, and the other part will be a loan from Moscow.

Restoring Tourism

In 2010, Turkey was one of the most visited destinations for Russians besides Egypt. According to the Russian Federal Tourism Agency, in 2012, Turkish resorts were visited by 2.5 million Russians,  3.1 million in 2013, 3.3 million in 2014 and it rose to 3.5 million in 2015. After the Russian ban on tours to Turkey and charter air transportation between Russia and Turkey, the flow of Russians to Turkey practically came to zero. According to Federal Agency for Tourism, the tourist flow from Russia to Turkey fell by more than 76% – to 866 thousand people in 2016. In 2017, the situation changed dramatically: the number of Russian travellers to Turkey in the first half of 2017 increased by almost nine times compared to the same period in 2016 and amounted to 1.6 million Russians.