– Mr. Ambassador, can you help the two countries turn a difficult page in Russia-Turkey relations?
A difficult period in Russia-Turkey relations has been left behind. There is political will on both sides and it compensates for the loss of momentum in our bilateral relations due to the unfortunate series of events in 2015-2016. The fact that the presidents of our countries have met personally six times over the past nine months and have held phone talks almost every week leaves no doubt that there is open political dialogue between our countries.
On May 31, the Russian President signed a decree to lift economic restrictions against Turkey. The government order dated June 2, 2017 removed any remaining economic limits. Now we are focused on bringing relations across the spectrum to the pre-2015 level.
– Recently you reached an agreement with the Head of Ingushetia on investments. Why do your Turkish colleagues reveal such increasing interest particularly towards Ingushetia?
We held a meeting with a delegation of Ingushetia, led by the Chairman of the Government of Ingushetia and Turkish businessmen at the Embassy residence. They presented investment opportunities in tourism, agriculture, construction and manufacturing in Ingushetia. Besides, Turkish and Ingush participants held bilateral meetings. The Chairman of the Russian-Turkish Business Council and the Head of the Russian-Turkish Business Association also attended the meeting. Thanks to the benefits and a favorable investment climate, Turkish companies are excited about great investment opportunities in tourism, agriculture, construction and many other industries.
It is not just Ingushetia. We have similar contacts with all Russian regions. Sometimes I go out to a particular region, sometimes we hold meetings with the regional representatives and Turkish businessmen in Moscow. We are ready to work with any region that seeks cooperation with Turkey.
– What measures are being taken together with the Russian authorities in order to cancel transit channels for those people, who want to join ISIS (banned in Russia) from Russia?
Turkey and the Russian Federation cooperate closely in the fight against ISIS. As part of this cooperation, we hold bilateral consultations on the fight against terrorism. Relevant government agencies contribute to international efforts both to drive ISIS out from occupied territories and regions and to prevent people from other countries from joining this organization. We are determined to continue our operations in this area.
– What is the role of the Turkish Stream project in terms of meeting Turkey’s increasing energy needs and raising Turkey’s profile as a regional energy hub on the international energy map?
The Turkish Stream gas pipeline project is critical in ensuring uninterrupted supply of natural gas and energy security of Turkey. The construction of the coast infrastructure of the gas pipeline has already started. The Turkish Stream, which will be launched in 2019, is intended to deliver 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Turkey annually. The pipeline will satisfy the needs of the internal market replacing the Western route, which is currently used. Overall, the volume of natural gas that Turkey buys from Russia will not change, but the new pipeline will open a direct route to Turkey.
– What is your stance on the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant? What is the importance of this project for Russia and Turkey?
It will be the first nuclear power plant in Turkey. The project will strengthen our energy cooperation with Russia. Currently, technical work is underway. We are planning to launch it in 2023.
– The holy month of Ramadan is celebrated now in Russia. How do you celebrate Ramadan in Turkey?
In Turkey, as in all Muslim countries, Ramadan, which is the Sultan of 11 Months, is celebrated with great enthusiasm. In the month of Ramadan, Muslims pray to Allah so that he forgives them the sins of the past 11 months. They try to strengthen family ties and visit the graves of their relatives more often. There are media programs revealing the sacred meaning of Ramadan and calling on Muslims to live in harmony with their surroundings, to believe in God with all their heart and to behave according to the moral values. These programs try to convey the message that Islam is a peaceful religion.
According to moral and religious principles, in the month of Ramadan the Muslim community has to clean up their inner world, their social circle and to set their mind straight. Taraweeh prayers (special evening prayers) enable the Muslim Ummah to gather and express solidarity, which is becoming increasing rare in the era of globalization.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the Muslim community in Russia on the Holy Month of Ramadan and wish everyone to feel the blessing of the Holy Month.