On Sunday, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that Russia is likely to reinstate a visa-free travel policy for citizens from Turkey. During the 15th Term Meeting of the Russian-Turkish Intergovernmental Joint Economic Commission, the minister expressed a joint desire to improve travel for both countries. Novak said, "We're optimistic that efforts to provide visa liberalization to passport holder will soon be effective."
Easing up travel between its citizens is not the only topic at hand. Russia and Turkey also discussed eliminating further trade barriers. This past June, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree that lifted a ban on certain Turkish agricultural imports along with companies or businesses specialized in construction, engineering, and tourism.
Novak added, "our trade volume has increased by 30 percent compared to the previous year, but even this figure is far below our potential." Turkish and Russian leaders have set in motion a series of steps to achieve their goals. Novak insisted that there are still more possibilities for growth and further partnerships that will benefit both countries.
Russian restrictions on Turkey followed the downing of a Russian fighter jet in 2015. Among the sanctions imposed by Russia was the end to the visa-free travel and calls on Russian citizens not to visit Turkey. Recai Berber, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Lawmaker in Manisa Province said that Russia is a crucial partner to Turkey. Berber said, "In our relations with Russia, one of the most important things is to remove the visas." He added that travel restrictions on citizens from both countries certainly have a negative impact on other areas.
Russia and Turkey's relationship strengthens
Turkey has recently established a restriction on US citizens who wish to visit the country. Following the detention of a U.S. consulate employee, the United States announced a travel ban on Turkish citizens. Washington announced that they would stop processing all of the non-immigrant visas in Turkey. The relationship with the United States has increasingly deteriorated.
On the other hand, the relationship between Russia and Turkey will continue to grow. Their leaders share similar perspectives on the war in Syria. Turkey sent troops across the border into Syria's northwest to provide support to anti-regime rebel groups. This is the beginning of a joint mission with Russia and Iran that aims to reach a cease-fire agreement with Islamic militants.
Over the summer, the Petroleum Pipeline Company landed an agreement on funding the Turkish Stream pipeline with the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom. Further collaborations between Russia and Turkey are likely to continue.