TURKEY AND RUSSIA PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN NORMALIZATION OF THE SITUATION IN CAUCASUS - PUTIN

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MOSCOW, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey and Russia are interested in the normalization of the situation in the Caucasus region more than anybody else, stated Vladimir Putin in an interview with the Turkish media on the eve of his visit to Turkey, which was originally scheduled for the beginning of September, but later postponed till December.

"I believe that Russia and Turkey are states that are interested in the normalization of the situation in the Southern Caucasus more than anybody else. We understand the current situation in the region better than anyone else does, and we are more interested in its normalization than anybody else because we are neighbors of that region. We have close economic and humanitarian ties with the region," the Russian President underlined.

According to Mr. Putin, it is in the interest of both Russia and Turkey to solve effectively the existing problems in the region without unnecessary rivalry and involvement of additional outside forces.

Speaking about the situation in Chechnya, Mr. Putin emphasized that "separatists in Caucasus, particularly in the Chechen republic, act according to their proper interests, neglecting the interests of the Chechen people and forming alliances with international terrorism."

Vladimir Putin stressed that Turkey also suffers from terrorism and pointed out that the cooperation between Russian and Turkish law enforcement and security services was improving. He expressed confidence that this cooperation "will acquire new quality, especially on the basis of the growing political trust between Turkish and Russian leadership, which will be confirmed during my visit to the Republic of Turkey."

Mr. Putin also expressed his wish that Russia and Turkey cooperated in all areas of "mutual concern" regarding other "sensitive" regions. "I am sure we will achieve better results that way," the head of the Russian state emphasized.

In addition, the Russian President expressed his concern about continuing violence in Iraq. "We will do everything possible to improve the situation in Iraq as soon as possible using the UN framework and our traditional channels of interaction with Iraq," Mr. Putin stated.

In his opinion, full and final reestablishment of the sovereignty of Iraqi people might be a sign of normalization of the situation in Iraq.

Answering the question about Russia's intention to send its troops to the north of Iraq if an independent Kurdish state is established there, Mr. Putin emphasized that "sending the military is an extreme measure, which is not always the most effective."

"There are plenty of other methods. Generally, we should not bring the situation to the point where the intervention of the military is necessary. Yet our position remains clear: we stand for the territorial integrity of Iraq and against the division of the country on quasi-states," the Russian President announced. He said that the Russian and Turkish positions on that issue coincided.

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