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Businessmen hopeful over Erdogan's Russia visit to meet Putin

The upcoming meeting of Turkish and Russian presidents is expected to boost bilateral relations to pre-crisis levels, according to leading representatives of Turkish economy and tourism sectors on Sunday. 


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, marking the first meeting between the two leaders since Russia and Turkey began normalizing relations following the downing of a Russian jet in November last year.


“I believe that the two countries can cooperate in many areas and create economic value,“ Tuncay Ozilhan, Chairman of the Turkish – Russian Business Council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board said.


“This is a very important meeting in which decisions might be taken to boost the [bilateral] trade volume up to $100 billion,” Ozilhan said, adding that the meeting could also pave the way for new projects.


Basaran Ulusoy, head of The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies said Erdogan’s visit to St. Petersburg is expected to have crucial and positive effects on both economies.


“The normalization of political relations and the re-establishment of direct communication will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the tourism sector,” Ulusoy said.


Mithat Yenigun, the president of The Turkish Contractors Association, said Russia was a very important market and not easily replaceable in terms of its size.


Yenigun said the business volume of Turkish contractors in Russia was $5.4 billion in 2015.


“We initially expect the restart of a $2 billion project which was suspended and cancelled after the crisis. Then we expect a gradual recovery, and return to pre-crisis levels,” he added.


Hikmet Tanriverdi, the president of Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Associations said that Turkey’s share in Russian market already narrowed due to a weaker Russian ruble, only to be exacerbated in the aftermath of the fighter jet crisis.


“We are very pleased that common sense prevailed on both sides, and the crisis was resolved before getting worse,” Tanriverdi said.


After the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian jet over the Turkey-Syria border last November, relations between the two countries soured, until the issue seemed largely resolved on June 29 through a letter and subsequent telephone calls between the leaders.


On June 30, Russia lifted a ban on tourist flights to Turkey following a phone conversation between Putin and Erdogan.


Turkish and Russian foreign ministers later met in the Russian city of Sochi on July 1 in an effort to boost the process of normalizing relations.


Putin gave his support to Turkey in the July 15 coup attempt and said he stood by the elected government, offering his condolences to the victims of what Erdogan called the “most heinous” armed coup attempt in modern Turkish history.


On July 22, Russia also lifted restrictions on flights to Turkey, which had been implemented temporarily following the coup attempt, after Turkish officials assured their Russian counterparts that additional security measures were taken.

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