(Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has written to Russian leader Vladimir Putin to apologize over the shooting down of a Russian air force jet by Turkey’s military, the Kremlin said on Monday, opening the way for Moscow to lift economic sanctions.
The Russian jet was shot down, with the loss of the pilot, last November while it took part in Moscow’s military campaign in Syria. Ankara said it acted lawfully because the plane had crossed into Turkish air space; Moscow denied that was the case.
Following the incident, Moscow swiftly approved a raft of sanctions, banning imports of everything from tomatoes and apricots to chicken products and salt from Turkey. It did not target important energy projects such as the Turkish Stream gas pipeline.
Below is a list of key areas of economic and trade relations between Russia and Turkey:
- In a decree signed by Putin charter flights from Russia to Turkey were banned and tour firms were told not to sell any holidays there.
- Turkey’s seaside resorts are among the most popular tourism destinations for Russians; for Turkey, Russia is the source of the second-largest number of tourist arrivals after Germany.
- About 4.4 million Russians, including 3.3 million Russian tourists, visited Turkey in 2014.
- Tour companies had expected that tourist flows would shift to Turkey after Moscow halted flights to resorts in Egypt following the downing of a passenger jet over the Sinai Peninsula. However, the Russian jet was shot down by the Turkish military shortly after the Egyptian incident.
- Russia banned imports of vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products from Turkey.
- Turkish food supplies to Russia had become more important after Moscow banned many Western food imports in 2014 in a tit-for-tat move following the imposition of European Union sanctions over Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
. Turkey’s exports to Russia, mainly food and textiles, were worth $6 billion in 2014, according to an estimate by Renaissance Capital made last November.
- Russia did not let the row with Ankara affect energy exports, the core of its economic relationship with Turkey.
- Turkey is the second-largest buyer of Russian natural gas after Germany. Russia is Turkey’s largest natural gas supplier, with Ankara buying 28-30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of its 50 bcm of natural gas needs annually from Russia.
- Turkey is the largest buyer of Russian wheat and sunflower oil. It bought 4.1 million tonnes of Russian wheat in the previous marketing year, which ended on June 30. [GRA/RU]
- Russia said last December it had no plans to impose any restrictions on exports of Russian grain to Turkey.
- Turkey commissioned Russia’s state-owned Rosatom in 2013 to build four 1,200-megawatt nuclear reactors in a project worth $20 billion. A source told Reuters in April a Turkish construction firm was in talks about buying up to 49 percent of the project.
- Russia and Turkey also have the TurkStream pipeline project, an alternative to Russia’s South Stream pipeline to transport gas to Europe without crossing Ukraine. The South Stream plan was dropped in 2014 due to objections from the European Commission.
- Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in December that Moscow had suspended work on the TurkStream project.
- Putin said this month that Russia had not “definitively” canceled TurkStream.
Reporting by Polina Devitt, Dmitry Solovyov and Jack Stubbs; Editing by Gareth Jones