Turkish, Russian presidents meet in Sochi for talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met in Russia’s coastal city of Sochi on Monday.

“The most important development everyone is looking at in Türkiye-Russia relations today is the grain corridor.

“The message to be given at the news conference after our meeting will be a very important step toward the world, especially to the underdeveloped African countries,” Erdogan said during the bilateral meeting with Putin.

Erdogan is on a one-day working visit to Sochi to discuss current regional and global issues, as well as bilateral relations with Putin.

The revival of last year’s historic Black Sea grain deal that helped ease the global food crisis will also be on the agenda of the meeting. The two presidents are also expected to hold a joint news conference following their meeting.

On July 17, Russia suspended its participation in the deal, brokered by Türkiye and the UN, to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports that were paused after the Ukraine war, which started in February 2022.

Moscow has complained that the West has not met its obligations regarding Russia’s own grain exports, and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need. It says restrictions on payments, logistics, and insurance have been a barrier to its shipments.

Confirming the importance of fulfilling Russia’s demands for the export of its own grain and fertilizer, Türkiye says there is no alternative to the initiative.

Ankara has been carrying out intense diplomatic efforts for the restoration of the July 2022 deal and has also called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the war through negotiations.

Central Bank governors meeting ‘important’

Turning to bilateral trade, Erdogan said the trade volume between Türkiye and Russia is $62 billion. “We are very glad that we are taking steps toward the target of reaching $100 billion,” he added.

Erdogan said Turkish Central Bank Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan also accompanied him during his visit.

“I believe that the meeting of our Central Bank governors is important in taking steps to use the domestic currency in bilateral relations,” he added.

Hailing developments between Türkiye and Russia in tourism, Erdogan said: “Russia is number one in tourism right now.”

The defense industry and the energy sector are the other important areas in bilateral ties, he added.

About Türkiye’s first nuclear power plant Akkuyu, Erdogan said the work at the power plant is continuing smoothly.

“The step taken regarding the first unit is very good. Moreover, as we have discussed with you before, I think that we will have to take a step regarding the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant. Of course, the fact that there will be a hub in Thrace is another element of richness and vitality,” he added.

Akkuyu, currently under construction in Türkiye’s southern Mersin province, will be the country’s first nuclear power plant.

An intergovernmental agreement for the plant was signed between Türkiye and Russia in May 2010. The plant’s groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 3, 2018, after which construction started on the first unit.

Construction of the second unit began on April 8, 2020, and the first batch of concrete for the third unit was poured on March 10, 2021.

The site, which is considered one of the largest NPP construction sites in the world, entered its peak construction phase when the foundation was laid for the fourth and last unit on July 21 last year.

Approximately 30,000 people were employed on the site during the most active project phase.