During a meeting in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to reinstate 100 billion dollars in bilateral trade, severely hampered after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter-jet in Syria in November of last year. Moscow retaliated with the introduction of economic sanctions against Ankara. Addressing the Turkish President accompanied by business leaders, Putin, who earlier promised to gradually phase out sanctions, said that the ties should not only be restored to pre-crisis levels, but also need to be exceeded. “One can destroy everything very quickly. To build is a much more complicated thing to do. But we both, from the Russian side and from the Turkish side, as I understand, are ready for this creative work.” / “We intend, of course, to restore our cooperation in the construction industry which traditionally is one of locomotives of our economic ties,” said Putin.
President Erdogan described the events of November 24, 2015 as the “black shadow” which overshadowed relations between Ankara and Moscow after the downing of the Russian jet. He also blamed the US-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish authorities accused of orchestrating the failed coup attempt, for the deterioration of economic relations with Russia. Erdogan declared that both countries are ready to pursue ambitious aims again. “Earlier (before the crisis in Russian-Turkish relations) we have chosen a very ambitious goal to reach $100 billion in bilateral trade… At present our Akkuyu (nuclear plant) project is a little bit lagging behind, but I think that if we add necessary steps, we’d be able to accelerate this work on the project which is worth $20 billion,” stated Erdogan. The rapprochement has raised alarm among Western powers, who view the improvement of relations between their NATO ally Ankara together with Moscow at a time of strained relations between the West and Russia, as a negative development that will be watched closely.