Russia has at least eight reasons to get closer to its ‘sworn enemy’ — RT World News
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained for much of history. The 12 wars involving the two countries testify to this, but Moscow and Ankara have a lot in common today and there is a lot of cooperation.
Tourism has always been the main and most traditional area of bilateral cooperation. In 2021 alone, Turkey accounted for 24.6% of all outbound trips by Russian tourists and, according to travel agencies, it was also the destination for 60% of package tours offered in Russia.
Türkiye is strongly associated with all-inclusive resorts among Russians. However, tourists are increasingly attracted to Istanbul’s historical sites every year. They also visit the seat of power in the capital, Ankara, study the archaeological heritage of ancient Izmir or admire the futuristic landscape of Cappadocia, where hot air balloon trips over the hills are among the main attractions.
Let’s not forget that the country is now also a transit hub for flights bringing Russian travelers to Europe, with most destinations on the continent only accessible to them via Turkey. In 2022, the share of transit flights via Turkey stood at 59%, according to air travel statistics. And given the current difficulties in organizing a “Roman feast”, this figure will increase further in 2023.
The most popular destinations for business travelers in recent years are Istanbul (which has concentrated 77% of these tourists since the start of 2022), Antalya (14%) and Izmir (5%). It’s no coincidence that Istanbul Airport was the busiest in Europe in 2022. There’s more to come!
The partnership in the energy sector is currently receiving a lot of attention, with mutually beneficial projects forming a solid basis for relations between Moscow and Ankara. Two Russian gas pipelines are already in service in Turkey: the Blue Stream and the Turkish Stream. The former was built to supply power to Turkey’s domestic market, while the latter was designed for gas exports to southern and southeastern Europe.
A new initiative recently proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin would see Turkey become an energy hub, which Moscow would use to increase its own export potential. The Turkish hub should not only be a space for managing energy supplies, but also serve as an impartial center for regulating gas prices.
Regarding the gas cooperation between the two countries, before the discovery of new fields in Turkey, Russia covered up to 60% of the national consumption of natural gas, supplying about 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year.
In the field of power generation, the launch of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was one of the most significant recent events in Turkey. It was built in Mersin on the Mediterranean coast with the help of Russian experts, creating 20,000 new jobs. Russia is responsible for supplying the plant with fuel, while Turkey has agreed to sell and distribute the electricity it produces. The leaders of the two countries also discussed the possibility of building a second nuclear power plant in the city of Sinop on the Black Sea. It is expected that the two plants can together cover 20% of Ankara’s electricity needs.
Let’s look at the numbers. In 2022, Russia supplied over 21 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey. In monetary terms, energy exports increased by nearly 250%, from $17 billion to $41 billion.
Turkish construction companies occupy a special place in the Russian services market. There are about 100 Turkish construction companies in Russia, including Renaissance Construction, Enka Holding and IC Ictas Insaat. The Ministry of Economic Development reports that the portfolio of executed contracts involving Turkish companies in Russia amounts to around 2,000 projects totaling more than $70 billion.
Russia’s footprint in Türkiye includes a joint project between GAZ and Turkey’s Mersa Otomativ, which has partnered to assemble Gazelle cars in the country.
Turkish construction companies were involved in major projects ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and were largely responsible for the development of sports infrastructure in Sochi.
These infrastructure projects have also fostered humanitarian ties between Russia and Turkey. Take the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, where around 20,000 workers were involved in development. The Russian company Rosatom has also launched student and staff exchange programs. In 2022, 24 students from Türkiye, specializing in nuclear power plants: design, operation and engineering, graduated and started working at the nuclear power plant built in Mersin. Many Russian engineers have engaged in the project as an opportunity to establish contacts with engineers from Türkiye and to represent Russia in Türkiye and beyond.
Both countries are currently undergoing an industrial transformation, developing their own manufacturing enterprises and reducing their dependence on foreign imports. Russia has been encouraged to adopt such a policy by multiple international sanctions, while in Turkey this path has been chosen by the ruling party in an effort to reduce the nation’s need to rely on external actors. .
Russia has always been and remains Turkey’s reliable and constant trading partner, importing large quantities of Turkish textiles. In 2022, Türkiye was among the top five textile suppliers to Russia.
There has also been an increase in the volume of industrial goods traded between the two countries. In 2022, Turkish imports of Russian chemicals increased by 62% and imports of wood and timber increased by 134%. In total, industrial goods accounted for around 20% of Russian imports from Turkey that year.
Following a series of sanctions imposed on Russia by the West, Turkey has become a major trading platform for parallel imports from Russia.
This has greatly boosted trade between the two nations. Compared to 2021, the last year saw:
- a 19.5% increase in the volume of Russian-Turkish trade
- a 17.6% increase in Russian exports to Turkey
- a 24% increase in Russia’s imports from Türkiye
The first quarter of 2023 saw a 62.8% year-on-year increase in Russian imports from Turkey in monetary terms due to increased purchases of sunflower seeds and fresh produce.
Turkey’s main imports to Russia in 2022 were:
- fresh and dried mandarins: 10%
- frozen fish: 9.9%
- peaches: 9.2%
- grapes: 6.4%
- other citrus fruits, fresh and dried: 5.9%
Moscow has seen a number of agreements signed with Turkish companies, and the total amount of Turkish investment in Russia has increased by 400% over the past four years. Russia remains not only one of Turkey’s main trading partners, but also an attractive market for capital investments.
In 2022, Turkish investors launched two new manufacturing sites in Russia: a factory for the production of sanitary and hygienic products and a knitwear factory. Given Russia’s interest in importing Turkish textiles, the industry is seriously interested in establishing manufacturing sites in Russian regions.
Russian companies are also expanding their presence in Turkey with a number of metal fabrication and car assembly projects being launched there.
The Russian education system has been undergoing profound transformations since 2016. It was found to generally lack an active and prolific student and faculty exchange component, and this needed to change.
In addition to boosting student and faculty exchange programs, Russia is also working to optimize the conditions for joint degree programs.
The Russian Ministry of Education and Science is developing a number of joint training programs for the nuclear industry. The following universities will receive a mandate to award international students bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear sciences and give them the opportunity to enroll in joint degree programs: Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University Peter the Great, National University of Moscow Nuclear Research MEPhI, Istanbul Technical University, and Ankara Hacettepe University.
2019 was the year of Russian culture and tourism in Turkey and Turkish culture and tourism in Russia. The Russian and Turkish Culture Ministries have organized a number of art exhibitions, photo exhibitions, as well as arts and crafts events. The countries also exchanged some of their most popular theater and film productions, which are undoubtedly a powerful instrument of soft power that is particularly popular and influential in Turkey.
Moscow and Ankara are committed to promoting their cultural heritage and developing bilateral relations, especially in the field of tourism. Ultimately, the relationship between the two nations is defined by the relationships between individuals, and gaining authentic experience of another country’s culture and traditions is the best way to form a lasting bond. Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has repeatedly noted that Russia and Turkey must maintain good, friendly interpersonal relations between their citizens.