Relations between Turkey and Russia improving

The generally harmonious relationship between Turkey and Russia soured last November when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border.

The Kremlin reacted with fury and banned the import of certain Turkish goods, including fruits and vegetables, visits to Turkey by Russian tourists, and construction projects with Turkish firms in Russia, as well as suspended construction of a nuclear plant being built by Russia's Rosatom.

As a result, the Turkish economy was hit heavily. In the first half of the year, the number of tourists from Russia to Turkey fell by more than 87 percent, and exports from Turkey to Russia dropped 60% compared with a year earlier.

In June, however, the Kremlin announced that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had apologized for the downing of the Russian jet.

A statement released by the Russian government announced that Turkey had conveyed that it "never had the desire or deliberate intention of shooting down the Russian federation's plane," and that it was prepared to do everything possible to restore friendly ties.

The leaders of Russia and Turkey have patched up the damaging quarrel, pledging to restore close economic relations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian trade sanctions on Turkey would be phased out "step by step."

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution lifting the ban on charter flights to Turkey Aug. 28, leading the way for Russian leisure carriers to file requests to begin charter flights between the two countries.

Turkish tourism officials and operators welcomed the decision, saying it would significantly boost the country's tourism sector.

The ban on the import of Turkish fruits and vegetables is expected to be lifted this autumn. Before the dispute, Russia was a major export market for Turkish fruit and vegetables, so Turkey is eager for the ban to be lifted.

Source: Ministry of Economic Affairs