The sides have discussed a wide spectrum of international issues of mutual concern. But to both, the situation in the Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles is closer to home.
Russia's main related concern has to do with the freedom of navigation in the Straits zone. An increasing number of limitations on passage through the zone have had Russian companies reduce their transit shipments and incur heavy financial losses.
Russia shares Turkey's worries about the eco-systems of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, but it does not think the protective measures being taken by the Turkish side are adequate as they restrict the freedom of navigation and lead to the actual introduction of an authorization regime for the passage of vessels. Russia believes in the comprehensive character of the 1936 Montreux Convention, defining the Straits' international status, as well as related provisions of the maritime law.
The Russian side is trying to put the Straits talks onto a constructive track, and offers to Turkey its expert and consulting services for the optimization of navigation through the Bosphorus.
The situation in the Transcaucasia was high on the agenda of yesterday's negotiations between Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and his visiting Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. No official information on the content of the ministerial talks has been made public, but this RIA Novosti correspondent has found out from an Ankara-based source that Mr. Gul raised his government's concerns about the plight of displaced Meskhetian Turks, striving to return to their native Georgia. This long-standing problem remains unsolved even after the change of government in Georgia.
According to the source, Ankara closely follows the process of settling intra-Georgian conflicts, and finds it worrying that Georgia's government has not made any specific proposals as to the reconciliation of disagreements with the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moreover, the effective elimination of the Adzharian autonomy, guaranteed by the Treaty of Kars, raises legitimate concerns over the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and undermines confidence between Georgia's central government and authorities in its autonomous regions.
Russian-Turkish relations seem to be regaining momentum, both in terms of political dialogue and economic cooperation. Trade turnover between the two countries is expected to reach 10 billion dollars this year, according to Russian Industry & Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko. The Turkish side plans to double this figure in the next few years, the minister says.