Turkey´s Political Relations With Russian Federation

The relations between Turkey and Russia, both of which share European and Asian features emanating from history, culture and common geography, are deeply-rooted. It is accepted that the diplomatic relations between the two countries began with the formal request by Czar Ivan the 3rd to send a diplomatic delegation to İstanbul in 1492. Turkey recognized the USSR in 1920 and the Soviet Union was the first Great Power that recognized the Government of Ankara during the Turkish War of Liberation. Bilateral relations gained ground and new opportunities and perspectives for cooperation emerged along with Russia’s orientation towards a pluralistic democracy and market economy after the end of the Cold War era. Both countries took steps towards strengthening mutual trust and good neighborliness as well as diversifying areas of cooperation by utilizing opportunities to improve bilateral relations. These steps yielded positive results.

Turkey recognized the Russian Federation, successor of the USSR and the visit of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Mr. Hikmet Çetin in 1992 was the first official visit from Turkey to this country. This was followed by the visit of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Andrei Kozyrev to Turkey and visit of the then Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Süleyman Demirel to Russia in the same year. During the visit of Mr. Demirel, the "Treaty on the Principles of Relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation" was signed on May 25, 1992. The treaty, which is the foundation of the new era of Turkish-Russian relations, sets forth the principles that constitute the basis of the relations between the two countries, such as respect for political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, equality of rights and mutual interests, refraining from using force and threat to use force in solving problems and is a sign of the willingness on both sides to add new dimensions to their cooperation.

Subsequently, reciprocal high level visits continued; the then Russian Prime Minister Mr. Victor Chernomyrdin paid the first bilateral visit to Turkey at the level of Prime Minister in 1997. The visit of the then Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Bülent Ecevit to Russia on November 1999 was also an important high level contact in terms of bilateral relations. During that visit, a Joint Declaration on the Fight Against Terrorism was issued and close cooperation in the area of energy was mutually agreed upon. This visit was followed in 2000 by the visit of Mr. Mihail Kasyanov to Turkey, the then Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Mr. Igor Ivanov’s official visit to Turkey in 2001 upon invitation of his Turkish counterpart, gave new impetus to the Turkish-Russian relations. During this visit, both sides agreed to add a multidimensional feature to their relations by extending bilateral cooperation to the Eurasian region. In line with this understanding “Joint Action Plan for Cooperation in Eurasia” was signed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries in New York on November16, 2001.

In the “Joint Action Plan for Cooperation in Eurasia”, which bears the title “From Bilateral Cooperation Towards Multidimensional Partnership”, it is emphasized that the fundamental changes in the world of historic magnitude opened a new stage in interaction between Turkey and Russia characterized by opportunities of developing fruitful bilateral and regional cooperation in every field in the spirit of friendship and mutual trust and thus, the two countries are determined to carry their relations to the level of enhanced constructive partnership. It is also underlined that the two parties decide to extend their existing good relations, political consultations and their experiences in the field of economic cooperation to the Eurasian dimension, and therefore, reach a new and higher level in their bilateral relations. The shared belief that dialogue and cooperation in Eurasia will positively contribute to bring about peaceful, just and lasting political solutions to disputes in the region and also the willingness of Turkey and Russia to develop bilateral and multilateral economic relations is in the plan. In the framework of the plan, the establishment of a Joint Working Group between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs was agreed upon. Regular consultations continue within the framework of the Working Group where prospects for improvement of relations on a bilateral basis and in the Eurasian platform as well as regional and international issues are taken up.

The high level political dialogue between Turkey and Russia, that has gained momentum and a regular character, plays a constructive role in terms of eliminating possible misunderstandings through direct contacts; moreover, it facilitates the implementation of concrete measures in various areas of relations.

On the other hand, the first official visit since 1996 from Turkey to Russia at the level of the Minister of Foreign Affairs was made by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Abdullah Gül on 23-26 February 2004. During the visit, in which all aspects of the bilateral relations were covered, also Turkish and Russian entrepreneurs met in the framework of Turkish-Russian Business Council. In the course of the visit, “2004-2005 Consultations Programme between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation” was signed, which gave a regular and institutional feature to the bilateral consultation process. The programme covers consultations in bilateral issues such as political and economical cooperation, security and fight against terrorism, maritime, consular and cultural affairs as well as regional and international problems.

The President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Turkey on 5-6 December 2004. This was the first Presidential visit in the history of Turkish-Russian relations besides that of the Chairman of the Presidium, Mr. Podgorny in 1972.

During the visit, the Joint Declaration on the Intensification of Friendship and Multidimensional Partnership was signed by the Presidents of both countries. At a joint press conference held after the signing ceremony, both Presidents expressed satisfaction over improvement of relations between the two countries and stressed the reciprocal aim of advancing the bilateral relations to the level of enhanced multidimensional partnership, as stated in the Joint Declaration.

Shortly after this visit, Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdoğan visited the Russian Federation on 10-12 January 2005 in order to participate in the inauguration ceremony of the Turkish Trade Center in Moscow and again on 8-9 May 2005 on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the World War II Victory Day. Prime Minister Erdoğan also paid a working visit to the Russian Federation on 17-18 July 2005 and held talks with President Putin in Sochi.

President Putin’s working visit to Turkey in November 2005 on the occasion of the official inauguration of the Blue Stream Gas Pipe Line, as well as 10th President of Turkey Mr. Sezer’s official visit to the RF in June 2006 added a new momentum to the development of bilateral relations and further strengthened mutual confidence between the two countries.

Russia’s participation in the “Operation Black Sea Harmony” in December 2006 has been an important input for our relations and contributed to further strengthening security and cooperation in the Black Sea.

President Putin visited Istanbul together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Lavrov on the occasion of the BSEC 15th Anniversary Summit in Istanbul on the 25th of June 2007.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ali Babacan paid an official visit to the Russian Federation on 19-20 February 2008. During his contacts in Moscow, Minister Babacan took up possibilities of developing and deepening the multidimensional partnership relations with Russia and has also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest to both countries.

The relations between the Parliaments of the two countries have also gained momentum. The then Chairman of Turkish Grand National Assembly Mr. Bülent Arınç visited Russia in July 2006 and the Chairman of Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Mr. Sergey Mironov visited Turkey in March 2007. Contacts between the Friendship Groups in both Parliaments, as well as contacts between expert commissions of two parliaments are being encouraged.

Relations in the military and defence industry area are also developing positively. Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of both countries paid visits reciprocally in 2002 followed by several visits of high ranking Commanders. The official launching of the Turkish Cultural Year will take place on 8 April 2008 in Moscow.

Cultural, scientific and educational fields are other areas where bilateral cooperation is gaining momentum. In 2007, Russian Cultural Year activities have been organized in Turkey and reciprocally the year 2008 will be celebrated as the Turkish Cultural Year in the RF. Russian Cultural Year activities started on 15 March 2007 with an official opening ceremony where both Turkish and Russian Ministers of Culture participated and ended officially on 11 December 2007.

The relations between Turkey and Russia, two important states in the Eurasian region and Black Sea basin, are rapidly advancing in all fields. Robust and lasting cooperation between the two countries constitute an important element of peace, security and welfare in the region and in the world.

Turkey has an Embassy in Moscow, Consulates General in Kazan, Novorossisk and St.Petersburg. The Russian Federation has an Embassy in Ankara and Consulates General in İstanbul, Trabzon and Antalya.