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    TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER TO DISCUSS ENERGY COOPERATION IN MOSCOW

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    MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian-Turkish energy cooperation will be one of the key topics on the agenda during Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's visit to Moscow, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Third European department Alexander Alexeyev announced at a briefing.

    Among other things the parties will discuss the Blue Stream gas project, he said.

    Russia's Gazprom and Turkey's Botas held intensive talks on the project throughout 2003, Alexeyev explained. "They discussed tax-related issues and other problems. They managed to solve them," he said.

    "The project is of a strategic character. Turkey's demand for gas will be growing and the project is being worked out so that it can meet not only the present demand, but also the future one," the Russian diplomat pointed out.

    According to Alexeyev, Turkey is Russia's very serious economic partner. In 2003 trade turnover between the two countries totaled almost $6 billion. At the same time the Turkish party is actively trying to make it equal, because now Russia has a positive balance mainly due to oil and gas supplies. "We are ready to consider an increase in Turkish goods imports, but on a market basis," Alexeyev emphasized.

    However, the Russian party considers it necessary to find other forms of cooperation as well, he said. For example, Moscow is interested in increasing Turkey's investment.

    A Russian-Turkish business forum will be held within the framework of Gul's visit to Moscow, Alexeyev said. It will be attended by Turkish businessmen who are accompanying the Turkish minister on his visit, as well as by representatives of the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and Russia's largest companies.

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