Last week, the public agenda in Turkey has been busy with three main topics.
First was the diplomatic meeting between the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, at the southern Russian city of Sochi.
Second were the exclusive statements from the Turkish Minister of Foreign Relations Mevlut Cavusoglu, about the government’s recent “Asia Anew Initiative”, during his Ministry budget report in the Parliamentary Budget Commission.
Third was the largest annual technology and innovation event in Turkey called ‘Teknofest’, at Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
Leaders of Russia and Turkey meet in Sochi
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to Russia to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin last Wednesday.
Putin received Erdogan at his official residence in the Southern Russian city of Sochi.
The head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin accompanied the Turkish president.
Erdogan and Putin have discussed many issues such as the strategic partnership in Syria, the purchase of the S-400 missile defense systems and a deal on nuclear power facilities.
Regarding the issue in Syria President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “Turkey remains committed to every decision agreed with Russia on Syria”, and that “there is no stepping back”.
The president said that Turkey is working incessantly for the safe return of Syrians to their homes, with over 1 million Syrians having returned so far, including 400,000 to Idlib, an area which fall within a de-escalation zone established by an agreement between Turkey and Russia.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him on the plane Wednesday following the Sochi meeting, Erdogan said the agreements with Russia on eliminating YPG/PKK terror groups in Syria must be fulfilled.
The Turkish leader emphasized that he raised the issue of YPG/PKK terror groups’ presence during his meeting with Putin in Sochi, reminding the Russian president that they should strengthen the cooperation in fighting terrorism.
Speaking on Turkey-US ties, Erdogan criticized Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for Middle East and North Africa, and said he is almost like a “director of the PKK/YPG/PYD”.
“McGurk walks arm in arm with terror groups in the region where Turkey fights them” Erdogan said.
The US should quit Syria sooner or later and leave it to the Syrian people, he asserted.
On the purchase of the Russian S-400 defense missile systems, Erdogan said that the process of acquiring more S-400s is ongoing. He also said the two leaders also discussed the ways to boost the cooperation further.
“We talked about steps to be taken regarding warplanes and construction of aircraft engines,” Erdogan also said.
He added that he hopes to work together with Russia on shipbuilding, including submarines.
Erdogan also said that he spoke to Putin about building two more nuclear plants with Russia, besides Akkuyu, and they agreed to work on the issue.
The Turkish leader also said that Putin proposed joint space research, including rocket launch, by building sea and land platforms.
For his part, Putin said that though his meetings with Erdogan were not always without problems, the institutions of their countries are able to reach resolutions between them.
He highlighted the significant role of cooperation between Ankara and Moscow in ensuring a truce secured last year after Azerbaijan liberated the Upper Karabakh region from neighboring Armenia’s occupation, as well as the strong and permanent peace between the two Caucasian nations.
Touching on economic relations between Ankara and Moscow, Putin said Turkey’s investment in Russia had reached $1.5 billion and Russia’s in Turkey currently stood at $6.5 billion.
“Major investment projects between the two countries continue as planned and bilateral trade between them has increased by 50% in the first nine months this year, making up for previous losses and achieving a major rise amid the coronavirus pandemic” said Putin at the investments in Sochi, where the meeting was taking place.
The closed-door meeting of the two leaders lasted for two hours and 45 minutes.
“We had a productive meeting with my colleague Putin and left Sochi,” Erdogan said on Twitter after the summit came to a close.
Turkish top diplomat’s statements on the Asia Anew Initiative
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has presented his report over the annual budget of the Ministry at the Parliamentary Plan and Budget Commission.
Cavusoglu made some statements regarding the Asia Anew Initiative of the Turkish government, in his presentation speech:
“The Asian continent will shape the 21st century. With this approach, we have announced the Asia Anew Initiative last year, in order to further strengthen a holistic view of the continent. Relations with the countries of the region have improved with the dynamism created by this initiative. While developing our bilateral relations with China, Turkey’s largest trade partner in the East Asia, we have repeatedly discussed our demands over the Uighur Turks to live in peace and prosperity, and as equal citizens of China, and with a respect for the human rights, protecting their religious freedoms and cultural identities, on every single occasion and at every level with the Chinese authorities.”
Regarding the Turkish foreign policy, Cavusoglu said:
“We are working to implement our national foreign policies, where Turkey also has a word to say in regional and international issues. In accordance with Ataturk’s principle of “Peace at home, peace in the world”, we make active contributions to the peace, stability and prosperity both in our region and overseas. It is necessary to carefully analyze this process and to carve the path accordingly. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to set up the game, and sometimes to end it. And we are not refraining ourselves from doing either of these. We are demonstrating the true power of the 500-years old Turkish diplomacy both in the field and at the table, and we will continue to do so.”
Regarding the Cyprus issue, Cavusoglu stated:
“It is not possible to accept the confinement of Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean. The true reason for this diplomatic mess in Cyprus for more than half a century is the stubborn and delusional mentality of the Greek Cypriot Administration. Therefore, it is now necessary to discuss the two-state solution, rather than the federation model.”
Lastly, Cavusoglu commented about the current relations with Russia, “Our relations with Russia make up of an important portion of our foreign policy. Our relations remain positive and on the basis of common interest and mutual respect. Recently, many regional issues have been raised up and were discussed together. Whenever a point comes out that we do not agree with Russia, we keep giving an importance to “keeping the dialogue channels alive”, and rather focusing on common interests.”
National technology and innovation festival in Istanbul
The six-day long Teknofest, Turkey’s largest technology and aviation event, which was being held at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, has ended on Sunday.
It is an annual exhibition on commercialization of patents, inventions, and new products.
Addressing at Teknofest 2021 at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he sees the successful scientists, engineers, technicians, researchers, and astronauts at the festival, which will shape Turkey’s future.
“I hope the young inventors of Teknofest will be the architects of 2053 and 2071 Turkey,” he said.
Expressing his pleasure over being at the world’s number one aviation, space, and technology festival again, Erdogan said the rich potential of the country was also being exhibited here with the efforts of the youth.
“As our unmanned aerial vehicles make headlines in the world press, Teknofest should be number one on the agenda of the world media. Hopefully, from next year, we will make Teknofest an international brand, and we will organize it in friendly and allied countries starting from Azerbaijan,” Erdogan said.
Turkey’s Nobel laureate in chemistry Aziz Sancar attended Teknofest on Friday, and said that it made him “really proud.”
“I came here to promote science and technology in Turkey and the Turkic world. What I saw here really made me proud and encouraged me,” he said in his address in Istanbul.
Future Nobel Prize winners may come out of Teknofest, Sancar said and advised everyone to work for humanity. “Do science, do technology,” the scientist encouraged.
He called on the youth to “work hard, stay determined even when things do not go well, and work with the mindset of ‘either I conquer it or it conquers me’ as Mehmet II. said.”
“Do not forget the love for your country. Nothing can be done without it,” he added.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Turkey’s Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said their aim is to make Turkey a country that not only uses, but also produces and exports technology.
“With Teknofest, we are making a really great effort to train the scientists, engineers and technicians of the future,” he added.
Noting the attendance of Aziz Sancar in this year’s Teknofest, Varank said every young person, child or student who attended the event will be tomorrow’s Aziz Sancar.
Selcuk Bayraktar, the chairman of the event’s organizer, Turkish Technology Team Foundation, said Teknofest 2022 will be held in Turkey’s Black Sea province Samsun.
“Many countries, including the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Ukraine and Indonesia, want to organize TEKNOFEST on their own soil,” Bayraktar said.
Last year, the event was organized virtually in the southeastern Gaziantep province due to the coronavirus restrictions.