RUSSIA, TURKEY PROMISE TO FURTHER IMPROVE BILATERAL TIES

MOSCOW -- As one of the main objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Turkey on Monday, the normalisation of ties with Turkey would continue to be high on agenda, reports China's Xinhua news agency.

After their talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul, both Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to further rapprochement.

"We have agreed to fully normalize our relations," said Putin, while his Turkish counterpart resonated with confidence that "normalization of Ankara-Moscow ties will continue at full pace."

Relations between the two countries soured last year after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border, which Putin called a "stab in the back," and ordered a range of sanctions against Ankara, which brought significant losses to Turkish economy.

The eight-month-long period of icy relations began to thaw in late June after Erdogan apologized to Moscow for the downing incident. Putin met with the Turkish president in Russia's second largest city of St. Petersburg in August.

Following the visit, the pair have kept frequent phone conversations on bilateral ties and regional hot issues.

In July, Russia lifted a tourism ban on Turkey, followed by easing restrictions on charter flights to the Middle East power.

"Negotiations on the resumption of visa-free regime will not go too fast, as in Turkey the issue of security is acute in connection with terrorist attacks," Amur Gadjiev, a research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua.

Preparations of inter-governmental agreements on the Turkish stream gas pipeline and on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, suspended due to the cooling of bilateral ties, are also underway as part of the normalization process.

During Putin's visit on Monday, Moscow and Ankara signed the long-awaited deal on gas pipeline for deliveries of Russian natural gas to Turkey with the construction of two underwater legs in the Black Sea.

However, geopolitical hurdles are still out there for the two countries to get over.

The main problem in their relations is that Turkey is a NATO member and an ally of the West, which made it natural for Moscow and Ankara to differ on many international issues, including those in the Central Asia, the Caucasus and other regions, Gadjiev noted.

But such issues, Gadjiev said, would not prevent the rapprochement between the two countries in the areas of mutual interest.

Source: Nam News Network