Horses & Tomatoes: the Putin/Erdogan Friendship

Recently, President Vladimir Putin enjoyed a two-day visit to Turkey. Judging by the statements made on both sides, trust has been completely restored between the countries, which had been on rocky ground since November 2015, when the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24, and the Turkish leader Recep Erdogan refused to apologize for the incident. Relations between the two countries at the time became so complicated that Putin signed a decree on the application of “special economic measures” against Turkey.

In 2017, Putin and Erdogan met eight times, not to mention having more than 20 telephone conversations. The last time the presidents met was last year in Sochi. And, in spite of mutual concessions, the atmosphere at the talks then reigned nervous.

This time, everything was different. In the Turkish capital, Putin was met by an honor guard, a horse guard and a military band. They hosted the hymns of the two countries and organized a cannon salute. And at the photographing ceremony, Erdogan was as relaxed as if he was with a close friend.

In terms of the business relationship between the two countries, in 2017, Turkish trade turnover increased by more than 40% compared to the previous year - up to $22 billion. Turkey occupies eighth place among the foreign trade partners of Russia in terms of turnover.

The export of agricultural products from Turkey grew by 1.6 times and reached $1 billion at the end of last year. However, Ankara is trying to lift the limit for the number of tomato suppliers to Russia and to increase the volume of authorized supplies. Now they export only 12 Turkish enterprises.

By the evening of the last day of Putin’s visit, it became known that Rosselkhoznadzor had allowed another Turkish producer to supply Russia. The gesture is purely symbolic, though, and there will be no noticeable impact on the growth of supplies and so this will not threaten domestic import substitutes.

Despite the fact that the business part of the visit was quite successful, it seems that it was not the main one after all. The key topic was the situation in Syria, which was discussed at length by the leaders of Russia and Turkey.

By Dimitri Dolaberidze

09 April 2018 17:57