RUSSIA AND TURKEY HEAD TOWARD PROSPERITY THROUGH COOPERATION

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MOSCOW, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin believes that Russia and Turkey are heading toward prosperity through mutual cooperation.

"We can ensure prosperity of our people and develop effectively our respective economies only through cooperative efforts. It is especially important for Russia and Turkey because we have many common interests. We are neighbors on the Black Sea. We have a complex but interesting history of mutual relations. We know very well that this history was full of various events: wars and reconciliation periods, although, as strange as it might seem, we had more examples of cooperation than anything else," stated the Russian President in an interview with the Turkish media on the eve of his visit to Turkey.

"We have a lot of things in common. And I am absolutely convinced and would like to emphasize once again that we can achieve even better progress today and in the future if we join our efforts," the head of the Russian state added.

"The recent examples of large joint projects, like the Blue Stream, show that we can implement the most ambitious, the most incredible from the first glance plans," Mr. Putin underlined.

He told the journalists that the volume of bilateral trade turnover increased six times during 1992-2003 period reaching $6.8 billion. "During six months of this year it increased by 60%. This is a good indicator, which tells us that we have great perspectives of our future cooperation," the Russian President said.

Mr. Putin also pointed out at the growing interest in Turkey on the part of Russian citizens who enjoy their frequent vacations in that country.

In addition, Russian people show genuine interest in the Turkish culture, the president added. "This year Russia hosted the festival of the Turkish culture. Next year, a similar festival of the Russian culture will be held in Turkey. We have a lot to show to each other and, certainly, we have a lot of things to do together," he said.

In his opinion, the sides opened a new page in bilateral relations and are heading toward expanded partnership.

"The strive for increased cooperation is caused by the drastic changes in today's world. Global changes usually lead to changes in relations between countries. The bipolar world is gone together with two opposing systems that used to confront one another or wait for an opportunity to attack and destroy one another," Mr. Putin emphasized.

"If we combine our efforts, we can only win and achieve better results and more success. This is our understanding and we can see that our Turkish partners believe the same," the Russian President said.

He also emphasized the importance of the fact that "recently, Turkey openly demonstrates its independence in all its aspects, which certainly raises its status on the international arena."

Mr. Putin pointed out at the energy industry as one of the key areas of cooperation and stated, "We are ready to continue the supply of fuel-carriers, natural gas and may be oil, to Turkey. We are willing to think about the transit of fuel-carries through Turkey to other countries. Several Russian companies might participate in large projects in the sphere of energy industry on the Turkish territory. We are also willing to expand the supply of machinery for Turkish economy."

According to Mr. Putin, Russian companies are eager to participate in privatization on the territory of Turkey. "We could cooperate in aviation and military-technical spheres. We continue to compete in the tender for a large contract on the supply of helicopters to Turkey. Overall, there are many spheres where we can apply our joint efforts," Mr. Putin concluded.

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