Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the fifth meeting of the Russian-Turkish Joint Strategic Planning Group
The fifth meeting of the Russian-Turkish Joint Strategic Planning Group (JSPG), which will be held in Istanbul on November 25, will be co-chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Feridun Sinirlioğlu. The group is operating under the Russian-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC), which is chaired by the presidents of Russia and Turkey.
The JSPG members will exchange opinions on a broad range of current bilateral, regional and international issues. The ministers will discuss the situation in Syria and the Middle East and North Africa, focusing on enhancing the effectiveness of counter-terrorism measures. They will continue their dialogue on issues pertaining to the situation in Ukraine, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as their cooperation in international organisations. The views of Russia and Turkey on many regional and global issues are similar or coincide, and they intend to continue their constructive dialogue. Moscow and Ankara believe it is necessary to strengthen cooperation in dealing with global and regional challenges in the interests of sustainable development.
Over the past few years, Russian-Turkish relations have grown into a close multifaceted partnership. The Russian-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC), which was established in 2010 and is chaired by the presidents of Russia and Turkey, has proven to be an effective and sustainable tool. The HLCC comprises the Joint Strategic Planning Group, which monitors Russian-Turkish cooperation on the international stage, the Mixed Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (economic issues), and the Public Forum (sociocultural ties).
There is evident mutual interest in strengthening bilateral ties and promoting dialogue.
Russia and Turkey are developing cooperation between their parliaments. On April 13-16 of this year, the speaker of the Grand National Assembly (parliament) of Turkey made an official visit to Russia. On April 23, Sergei Naryshkin, Speaker of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of Russia, went to Turkey for the centennial anniversary of the Dardanelles Campaign in the First World War.
The Joint Strategic Planning Group will focus on current issues of trade and economic cooperation. Unfortunately, both sides are still working to overcome the negative trend of 2014 when bilateral trade declined by 3.5 per cent to $31.6 billion. In the first nine months of 2015, bilateral trade was $18 billion, a decrease of 23.4 per cent. There are objective reasons for this, including the unfavourable market situation, falling energy prices and rouble devaluation.
Russian-Turkish trade and economic cooperation may be given an additional impetus in light of the Western sanctions against Russia. The related ministries and companies in Russia and Turkey are discussing ways to increase the volume and range of Turkish food exports to Russia.
Bilateral energy cooperation is a key factor. The construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which is a strategic project, is proceeding on schedule. The ground-breaking ceremony was held at the site of the future plant’s maritime hydraulic facilities in April 2015. Russia is training Turkish personnel for the plant. Another priority is the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline across the Black Sea. We hope the agreements on the construction and operation of Turkish Stream’s first line will be implemented in full, comprehensively and on schedule. We also hope for an early resumption of talks, including the draft of the intergovernmental agreement that was forwarded to Turkey in May of this year.
Evidence of the strong potential for bilateral cooperation in high technology was the launch of the Turkish communication satellite Turksat-4B by a Russian carrier rocket in October 2015 (Turksat-4А was launched from the Baikonur spaceport in February 2014).
Growing Russian-Turkish cultural cooperation is facilitating the development of a favourable climate for dealing with the practical aspects of bilateral cooperation in other fields. The Russian Centre of Science and Culture has been operating successfully in Ankara. A similar Turkish centre is to open in Moscow soon. The Russian-Turkish Public Forum, which is operating under the High-Level Cooperation Council, is contributing much to the development of cultural ties between our countries.
Tourism is a major part of bilateral cultural relations. Turkey is a popular destination for Russian tourists, several millions of whom vacation in Turkey every year. The implementation of agreements on the cross-years of culture and tourism in 2017 and 2018 will boost cultural ties and increase the tourist exchange between our countries.
Russia believes that the upcoming meeting of the Joint Strategic Planning Group will greatly contribute to the further strengthening of relations of friendship and partnership between our countries.
November 23, 2015