Russia, Turkey Vow to Boost Bilateral Trade, Tourism

ST. PETERSBURG, November 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and Turkey are expected to boost bilateral trade, despite a slight slowdown this year amid unfavorable conditions on the global market, the countries’ leaders said Friday.

“We have a common goal of reaching trade of $100 billion by 2020,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a meeting of the high-level Russian-Turkish cooperation council in St. Petersburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting that bilateral trade grew to $34 billion last year, but that exports and imports dropped by 7.5 percent in January-September this year. The decrease is temporary and trade is likely to see an upturn after measures are taken to improve trade conditions, Putin said.

The Russian leader said Turkey is a top destination for Russian tourists, with a record 4 million Russians expected to visit the country’s resorts this year. He also marked an increase in the number of Turkish tourists to Russia and proposed holding a bilateral year of tourism in both Russia and Turkey.

Putin said Russia is interested in expanding military and technical cooperation with Turkey to ensure security at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia’s Black Sea city of Sochi. He also thanked Russia’s Turkish partners for their role in building Olympic facilities there.

The leaders also discussed international issues, such as efforts to put an end to the civil war in Syria and resolve Azerbaijan and Armenia’s decades-old conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We have common steps to take and the talks we held on these topics have helped us set up a platform and a basis for settling these issues,” Erdogan told the meeting.

Russia and Turkey signed a number of cooperation agreements at the meeting, including a memorandum between Russian energy company Inter RAO UES and a power generating firm.

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