Putin and Erdogan meet before summit on Syria

Putin and Erdogan meet before summit on Syria

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The presidents of Turkey and Russia staged in Ankara the good harmony that unites both countries for months and expressed the desire to further strengthen their commercial cooperation.

Türkei Recep Erdogan & Wladimir Putin in Ankara (picture-alliance / Anadolu Agency / K. Ozer)The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, during a meeting at the presidential complex in Ankara,

The presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gave today (03.04.2018) in Ankara the starting signal for the construction of the first Turkish nuclear power plant, before the summit on Syria to be held on Wednesday along with Iran .

Putin and Erdogan attended by videoconference at the start of construction of the plant in Mersin, in southern Turkey. The project, of 20,000 million dollars (16,200 million euros), is mainly in charge of the Russian state company Rosatom. The first stone was laid in 2015, the first reactors will start operating in 2023 and the plant will be at full capacity in 2025.

“Dear friend”

According to Erdogan, who referred to Putin as his “dear friend”, the Russian-Turkish project is “historic” for relations between both countries. “Today we not only attended the construction of the first Turkish nuclear power plant, but we also laid the foundations for the atomic industry in Turkey, today we founded a new sector,” said Putin.

Erdogan recalled that the volume of bilateral trade increased by 32% in 2017, exceeding 22,000 million dollars, although the objective, he said, is to reach 100,000 million. He stressed that last year 4.7 million Russian tourists visited Turkey, a figure that he expects to rise this 2018 to 6 million.

Strong diplomatic tensions

These increases came after two years of strong diplomatic tensions, which reduced trade and tourism to almost zero, due to the shooting down of a Russian fighter by Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border in November 2015.

Erdogan seemed to refer to this incident and the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara, Andrei Karlov, in 2016, when he spoke at the press conference today about “some hard tests, some efforts to spoil relations”. “We overcome them and the ties are stronger than before,” the Turkish president stressed.

Türkei Recep Erdogan & Wladimir Putin in Ankara |  Grundsteinlegung-Zeremonie Akkuyu AKW (Reuters / U. Bektas)

Cooperation in war in Syria

Regarding the war in Syria, the two leaders said they want to strengthen cooperation to reach a solution. “We have discussed the Syrian issue and we have exchanged views on the solution,” said Putin, who recalled the previous phases of this debate in the Russian city of Sochi last November.

According to Putin, “we have discussed what else we can do for the zones of détente and dialogue, and we want to strengthen this cooperation.” Both Moscow and Tehran support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey is allied with several Islamist militias that have taken up arms against that regime.

At the summit on Syria on Wednesday, Putin and Erdogan will meet with Iranian President Hassan Rohani to discuss how to end the civil war unleashed in the country in 2011, which left some 500,000 dead, five million refugees and six of displaced people.

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