Turkey rolled out the red carpet to greet visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin during his one day visit to Ankara on Monday (1 December). Only on this occasion the carpet was not red but turquoise, and the lavish welcome ceremony was full of symbolism of Ottoman grandeur. After paying homage at the Mausoleum of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, Putin, escorted by mounted cavalry made his way through the capital to the new Presidential Palace where he was greeted by President Erdogan and participated in a welcome ceremony which included a twenty one gun salute and a review of the Presidential guard.
After that it was down to business.Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan took part in the fifth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council (HLCC).
The Council meeting's agenda focused on bilateral cooperation in trade, the economy, and the energy sector.
The two sides signed a number of bilateral agreements including memorandums of understanding on energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy sources, training personnel for the nuclear energy sector, the small and medium business sector, cooperation on labour, social welfare and employment, and a memorandum of understanding between Gazprom and Turkey's Botas Petroleum Pipeline Corporation. A bilateral agreement on reciprocal legal assistance in criminal cases and extradition was also signed.
At a press conference at the end of the discussions President Putin said Russian-Turkish relations in the energy sector have raised to strategic level. Russia will increase gas supplies to the Turkish market by 3 billion cubic meters under the Blue Stream project, Putin said. Russia will reduce by 6% gas price for Turkish consumers from January 1, 2015, he added. Russia is ready to further reduce gas price for Turkey as its strategic partner, Putin noted, adding that the 6% discount on gas price for Turkey is only the first step. The Russian president also said that a free trade regime with Turkey is possible.
During the Press Conference the Russian leader promised that the Akkuyu NPP (nuclear power plant) in Turkey will be built on time, and all safety requirements will be observed. The Akkuyu nuclear plant is being built by Russia's state-run corporation Rosatom.
President Putin and President Erdogan also held private talks during which issues related to the future of Eurasia were discussed. Both countries are keen to play a leading role in the region and this sometimes puts them in competition with each other. However during the visit both sides were keen to emphasise those areas on which they are in agreement.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies.
photo: President Putin and President Erdogan walking on a turquoise carpet, review the Turkish Presidential Guard at the President's Residence in Ankara on Monday 1 December 2014.