Putin & Erdogan discuss Syria and Turkish Stream at G20 summit

September 4, 2016. Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Erdogan during the group photo session of the heads of G20 nations, invitees and international organizations in Hangzhou © Sergey Guneev
On the sidelines of the G20 summit in China, Russian President Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have discussed the Syrian crisis and the issue of restoring the suspended Turkish Stream gas pipeline project, the Kremlin’s spokesman says.

“They talked for quite a long time, both in the format of the delegations meeting and one-on-one plus the foreign ministers. They then exchanged views on the Syrian issue. The conversation was quite frank and thorough,” Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to RIA Novosti.

“When the delegations were present, they spoke about a rough schedule for restoring all formats [of cooperation],” Peskov added.

The leaders discussed the Turkish Stream project - a proposed natural gas pipeline from southern Russia across the Black Sea to Thrace in Turkey, which was suspended in 2015 following the downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey.

“They discussed the Turkish Stream - the thing is that a great number of permits were issued for the South Stream route. Now the only thing that is to change is the name of the project and we need to reissue those permissions and that will substantially speed up the process. The route hasn’t changed, the name of the project has,” Peskov said. South Stream is an abandoned pipeline project to transport natural gas from Russia to Europe.

The leaders paid special attention to energy development, and particularly, to the expanded supply of oil that may be carried out by Russia’s Rosneft oil giant.

Among other subjects touched upon by the two leaders, Peskov mentioned the possibility of dropping barriers to agricultural product imports from Turkey.

“Our Turkish partners have raised the question of lifting restrictions on agricultural goods as soon as possible. We are to keep on working on this matter,” Peskov said.

“On the whole, the talks have been quite positive and showed our mutual intention to normalize relations,” the spokesman added.

Russia-Turkey relations deteriorated after a Russian Su-24 jet had been shot down and two pilots were killed in November 2015, forcing Moscow to respond with a package of economic sanctions.

The situation changed for the better in June when Erdogan rendered an apology to Putin and offered his condolences to the families of the deceased pilots.

Putin signed a decree on June 30 ordering the government to take steps to drop the restrictions on tourist travel to Turkey, while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instructed ministers to prepare measures for the removal of the sanctions.

The international forum for the top 20 world leaders and central bank chiefs officially kicked off in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on Sunday. The summit is intended to address global economic issues as well as issues of global security.