ISTANBUL (AVRUPA TIMES)-Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said Thursday having opposing views on the crisis in Syria did not make Russia and Turkey enemies.
"We want to enhance our neighboring, trade and investment relations with Russia," Simsek said during an opening speech at the Central Asian Investment Forum in Istanbul.
The downing of Russian jet on Nov. 24 has severely deteriorated relations between two countries. Following the incident, Moscow imposed a range of unilateral economic sanctions against Turkey, including a ban on food imports.
Simsek said he had hoped that Russia would “calm down” after the crisis. In fact, relations appear to have worsened as Russia has bombed several civilian locations in Syria recently, resulting in mass migrations to the Turkish border.
In addition, Simsek stressed that the Central Asian countries needed economic diversity: “They need to enhance the investment environment and attract those investments. In fact, those countries are in a good shape on education and human resources. What they need to enhance is entrepreneurship, investment environment and improving infrastructure.”
Decline in oil prices has hurt the region’s economy, forcing them to look for investment in non-oil sector.
U.S.-based international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowered credit ratings for five countries -- including Kazakhstan -- on Wednesday due to plummeting oil prices.
Istanbul on Thursday hosted an investment forum on Kazakhstan. Senior Kazakh officials have called on Turkish business people to invest in their country.
Foreign trade volume of Kazakhstan and Turkey stood at around $1.8 billion, according to the Turkish Economy Ministry’s 2015 figures.
Turkey’s trade volume with the Central Asian countries is around $9.3 billion in 2013, according to Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Turkish businesses have invested $3.5 billion in these countries.