The escalating violence in Syria and the growing threat of Islamist extremism will both feature high on the agenda of bilateral talks when Russian President Vladimir Putin lands in Istanbul to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyeb Erdogan.
But Putin, who was invited to Istanbul to attend the 23rd World Energy Congress, will likely also discuss with his counterpart means to boost bilateral trade as well as resuscitate a stalled natural gas project between the two countries.
The joint project, known as Turkstream is seen as a vital economic enterprise by Moscow because it would involving building a pipeline which will carry Russian gas straight to Europe.
“All of us aim to finalize the works on this intergovernmental agreement by the [time of the] meeting of Mr. President Putin and Mr. President Erdogan on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress,” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency on Sunday.
In return, it is expected that Russia will reopen up its markets to an array of Turkish agricultural products.
The meeting of the two leaders is the third in as two months and comes after a very tense year when relations deteriorated because of the Turkish downing of a Russian SU-24 fighter craft.
It is also the fourth time they meet since June, when a Russo-Turkish rapprochement began in earnest. During their August 9 meeting in Moscow, the two leaders pledged to try and reach the goal of $100 billion in trade volume. To that end, their trade and finance ministers have been working on a full investment agreement expected to be signed by the beginning of next year.
Turkey expects Putin’s visit on Monday to hasten the normalization of ties which teetered on the verge of collapse after the SU-24 incident last year.
“It is expected that this visit, which comes as a follow-up to the two leaders’ earlier meetings in St. Petersburg on Aug. 9 and in Hangzhou, China on Sept. 3 on the sidelines of the G20 summit, will contribute to further improving our cooperation and accelerating normalization process between Turkey and Russia,” a statement from a presidential spokesperson in Ankara said.