MOSCOW, RUSSIA / ANKARA, TURKEY
The top Turkish and Russian diplomats met Tuesday to discuss international issues and help prepare for a meeting of the two countries’ presidents.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, met with his Russia’s counterparty Sergey Lavrov in the Russian resort city of Sochi, ahead of a planned meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council, set to be co-chaired by their presidents.
The meeting of the council at the presidential level will be held in Turkey, “as soon as the situation allows for it”, Cavusoglu said, speaking at a news conference following the meeting.
Before that, the related bodies have to discuss a number of issues, including full restoration of visa-free regime for Turkish citizens and increasing quotas for delivery of the Turkish vegetables and fruits to Russia to revive the trade balance, which had been adversely affected by the pandemic, Cavusoglu said.
Asked about cooperation with Russia in the development of the Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus, the minister said it is going well, and the sides agreed to organize a joint production of the vaccine.
“We are not talking about unilateral delivery, we are talking about joint production,” he said.
For his part, Lavrov said the implementation of the biggest Russian-Turkish projects, including the construction of Akkuyu nuclear power station and further development of TurkStream gas pipeline, will be finished in time despite adjustments due to the pandemic.
He also praised Turkey’s determination to continue cooperation in the military domain despite sanctions, which he called “an attempt to promote the interests of the US industry with help of unfair methods”.
The minister said Russia and Turkey became objects of the Western sanctions because they pursue an independent policy in international affairs, based on national priorities, and search for a common good through balance and cooperation.
In turn, Cavusoglu slammed as “illegitimate” the US sanctions against Turkey over the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system.
“It’s against our sovereign rights,” Cavusoglu said. “We will not give up on our intentions.”
Reminding that Turkey already signed the deal for S-400 air defense systems, Cavusoglu stressed: “We won’t be stopped.”
But he also added that Turkey is generally against a policy of sanctions, recalling that Ankara did not join the EU sanctions against Russia and Iran and prefers to solve problems through dialogue.
Both ministers said they paid priority to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement while discussing the international agenda.
“We welcome Ankara’s desire to help the parties to the conflict fulfill their obligations. In particular, within the framework of the agreement signed by the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, and the prime minister of Armenia on Nov. 9, as well as within the framework of the Russian-Turkish joint center for monitoring the implementation of cease-fire obligations,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov, Cavusoglu reaffirmed the commitment to the work in the Astana format, as it has proven its effectiveness and ability to resolve the most pressing issues related to the situation on the ground.
“We talked about how to implement the agreements of our presidents on the Idlib de-escalation zone. These tasks are being carried out, we would like it to happen faster,” Lavrov said.
Regarding the crisis in Libya, Cavusoglu said no country or person, including warlord Haftar, has the right to ask Turkey to leave Libya.
“We have legitimate reasons to be there,” he said.
Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey does not seek profit in Libya, but assists in achievement of national unity and establishment of dialogue between parties.
He also stressed that the global community has to take more active role in encouraging the Libyan parties to peace.