Turkey Drifting Out of NATO Orbit: Turkstream and S-400 Deal Bringing Moscow and Ankara Closer
The TurkStream will begin operating by the end of the year. Ankara promises benefits for Russian business and plans to switch to national currency payments. Defense projects between the countries won't be limited to S-400 shipments. We've acquired the latest news from the Kremlin, where Vladimir Putin is meeting Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish president has arrived on a working visit to attend the High-Level Cooperation Council.
Denis Davydov with the details on the future of our operation.
It's the third time Putin has met Erdogan since the beginning of the year. The dialogue is intensive. The way the two delegations greet each other makes it obvious that Russian-Turkish relations are on the rise.
Vladimir Putin: "We are witnessing and confirming a good level of development in our relations with trade growing by 15%, its total revenue at $25 billion. Major projects are being implemented: the Akkuyu power station, which we will launch by 2023, as well as the TurkStream pipeline, with its onshore and offshore sections recently connected".
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey: "The onshore section is being laid as planned. We'll finish the construction of this section on time".
According to the plan, Turkish consumers will begin receiving Russian natural gas in 2019. The pipeline is about 600 miles long. It goes from the Russian Anapa to Turkey along the bed of the Black Sea. It has four threads; each has a capacity of 530 billion cubic feet. Two will pump gas to Turkey, the other two to the EU.
The talks have become the center of attention. Over 100 journalists are covering the meeting between Putin and Erdogan. There are too many crucial issues and they're not limited to bilateral cooperation. Russia and Turkey are the key participants in the Syrian peace process. Last year, the presidents agreed to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib, a step that reduced the refugee inflow to Europe. Heavy vehicles have been withdrawn from the province. Russian military police units patrol the area.
Vladimir Putin: "As guarantors of the Astana process, Russia and Turkey continue to make energetic, coordinated efforts for the long-term normalization of the situation in that country. We're coordinating our efforts in the context of stepping up the intra-Syrian political process, particularly with an eye towards forming a constitutional committee as soon as possible".
Erdogan paid a visit to Moscow during a serious conflict between Ankara and Washington. America threatens to cancel the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. The States are furious because Turkey, a NATO member, signed a contract with Russia to buy S-400 anti-aircraft systems.
Vladimir Putin: "Our countries have major goals in strengthening defense cooperation. First of all, this concerns completing the implementation of the contract for the supply of S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey. Also on the agenda are other promising projects related to supplying modern Russian military products to the Republic of Turkey".
Today, the Kremlin is not only hosting full-fledged negotiations between the two presidents but also a meeting with businessmen. Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan are meeting representatives of the business communities of both countries. They're talking about the ambitious task of increasing trade by four times over, up to $100 billion. Today, a mutual investment fund was created.
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF: "Over the last few of years, Turkey has built advanced medical centers. They were funded by private investors. They will be handed over to the government 15 years later. We'll introduce a similar program in Russia where we can build large medical clusters within the framework of the healthcare national project with primarily private funding".
At today's meeting with the business communities, Vladimir Putin confirmed that Moscow is doing everything possible to create a comfortable climate for all businessmen, including foreigners.
Vladimir Putin: "Russia is doing and will do everything necessary so that foreign companies, including Turkish ones, can feel as comfortable and safe as possible in the Russian market without being subjected to excessive administrative burdens".
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "We're ready to provide preferential treatment for Russian businesses. We're not treating your companies as foreign investors but regard them as our own, our local companies".
Turkey is also a popular tourist destination. Six million Russians took vacations there last year alone. This year, the number will increase. Both Russia and Turkey announced that 2019 is the Cross Year of Culture and Tourism.
Denis Davydov, Alexander Antonov, and Sergey Dovgal Vesti.