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Presidents of Russia, Turkey adopt strategic declaration

Posted by seumasach on February 13, 2009


MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – The presidents of Russia and Turkey adopted a joint declaration following talks in Moscow on Friday to promote ties and enhance bilateral friendship and partnership.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul arrived for his first four-day visit to Russia on Thursday. Following his stay in Moscow, he travels to Kazan, the capital of Russia’s predominantly Muslim republic of Tatarstan.

“This is a strategic document laying out the achievements of bilateral cooperation and setting tasks for enhancing it further,” a source in the Kremlin said earlier.

In the declaration, the two presidents urged action to take effective measures to settle frozen conflicts that could destabilize the situation in the South Caucasus.

They also vowed to move quicker in settling issues related to defense cooperation.

“Reaching agreements on burning issues in defense cooperation between the two countries will open up more opportunities for broader cooperation in the sphere,” the two presidents said in the declaration.

The two countries, which as the Russian and Ottoman empires established diplomatic relations over five centuries ago, also agreed on mutual aid to restore and build monuments.

Taking into account the leading role of private businesses in bilateral trade, Russia and Turkey agreed “to facilitate and speed up business contacts… and visa procedures for businessmen.”

The Turkish president said annual bilateral trade, which exceeded $30 billion last year, could soon grow to $50 billion.

“We could push the [bilateral trade] index to the level of $40 billion-$50 billion in the near future in the interests of our nations,” Gul said.

Moscow and Ankara agreed that energy was a strategic sphere in bilateral cooperation that had potential for growth.

Turkey receives about 65% of its gas from Russia, which is pumped via Ukraine and the Blue Stream pipeline that passes directly from Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told reporters on Friday that Russia could sign an energy contract worth more than $60 billion with Turkey on the construction of a nuclear power plant and power supplies to the country for the next 15 years.

He said four reactors for a potential nuclear plant in Turkey could cost $18 billion-$20 billion.

At the conclusion of the talks, the Turkish president invited his Russian counterpart to make a return trip to Turkey.

“I believe my current visit will open up a new page in the history of Russian-Turkish ties,” Gul said.

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