Turkey, Russia agrees to remove restrictions on trade

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his Russian counterpart Dimitri Medvedev witness signing of declaration in Istanbul

Turkey and Russia signed a declaration in Istanbul on Monday to remove restrictions on bilateral trade that had been placed after the shooting down of a Russian military jet in 2015.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his Russian counterpart Dimitri Medvedev witnessed the signing of the declaration on the sidelines of the 25th anniversary summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

The BSEC was formed on June 25, 1992, as a multilateral political and economic initiative aimed at peace, stability and prosperity in the region. It has 12 members, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

The declaration — signed by Deputy Premier Mehmet Simsek and Russian Deputy Premier Arkady Dvorkovich — aims to normalize and develop economies, and enhance the current trade volume between Russia and Turkey.

It called for turning the Black Sea region into a “zone of peace, stability and prosperity”.

It said the organization’s 25th anniversary summit “serves as a milestone of our firm common desire to reinvigorate the quarter century of cooperation among the BSEC member states and provides the opportunity to exchange views at the highest level on further developing our cooperation to the benefit and prosperity of our peoples over the next decades”.

It said member countries “support greater involvement of the private sector in BSEC cooperation and enhanced synergy between the public and the private sectors to improve the business environment in the region for our entrepreneurs.

“Towards this goal, we welcome the efforts for revitalizing the BSEC Business Council which is the competent related body of our organization.”

It also called for safer maritime transport options.

“Noting that shipping is indispensable for trade, economic cooperation and tourism in the Black Sea region, we encourage efforts to provide additional, safe and secure maritime transport options to the existing and future flows between the BSEC member states, Europe and Asia, and to facilitate participation of national economies of BSEC member states in the global economy.”

The declaration also highlighted the commitment to “promoting the engagement in the economy of small and medium-sized enterprises, family farmers, women, youth, persons with disabilities, refugees and internally displaced persons in order to contribute to unleashing the untapped potential in the region which is vital for sustainable economic development in all BSEC member states.”

Moscow took several measures against Ankara, including a ban on imports of Turkish agricultural products and ending visa-free travel for Turks after Turkey shot down a Russian military jet over an airspace violation in November 2015.

Since last summer, Russia has relaxed the measures and lifted bans on some products, particularly citrus fruits.