Putin signs decree cancelling trade restrictions with Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree cancelling some of the economic restrictions imposed on trade and travel with Turkey on Wednesday as a major sign of improvement in relations between the two countries

The related decree “on removal of certain special economic measures against the Turkish Republic” was signed by Putin, the Kremlin press service stated on May 31, according to the TASS news agency.

A decree posted on the Kremlin website lifted a ban imposed from January 1, 2016, on Turkish construction and tour firms doing business in Russia. It also reversed a measure barring Turkish companies from bringing in any new workers from the country.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the decree was a “formalization” of agreements reached between Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at talks earlier in May 3 in Sochi.

During the 25th-anniversary summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in Istanbul on May 22, Turkey and Russia signed a joint declaration to remove trade restrictions between the two countries with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, his Russian counterpart Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek and his Russian counterpart Arkady Dvorkovich attending to the ceremony.

According to Wednesday’s decree, Turkish citizens in possession of service passports, flight and cabin crew, as well as businesspeople visiting Russia for short periods will be entitled to visa-free travel.

The decree also grants visa-free travel to diplomatic and consular representatives of Turkey and their families on the basis of the principle of reciprocity.

A broader decision to halt visa-free travel for all Turks was left in place.

Putin said earlier in May that Russia would not lift the visa requirements, citing a growing terror threat.

Putin also instructed the Russian Foreign Ministry to notify Turkey of the partial renewal of a May 2010 agreement concerning the terms of mutual travel of citizens of the two countries.

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

Relations were frozen for months between the countries but relaxed in the summer of 2016 when Putin and Erdoğan began to bury the hatchet.

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

The decree will come into force immediately after being published on a governmental legal information site, where it has not yet appeared.

A contentious ban on tomatoes, a major Turkish export, was also left in place.