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Russia Announces Lifting of Economic Sanctions against Turkey - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Moscow- Russian authorities have announced the suspension of the ban previously endorsed on Turkish food exports to the Russian markets, along with a warning concerning tourism trips to Turkey.

But, the lifting excluded the exports of Turkish tomato, and discussions will be continued in this regard.

In the meantime, the Russian authorities haven’t suspended the ban of Russian-Egyptian flights, despite the Egypt’s assertion it has accomplished all the necessary procedures to secure aviation safety.

Discussions between Russian and Egyptian officials are ongoing in hopes for flights to resume during this summer’s tourism season.

President Vladimir Putin has inked a decree that suspends some economic procedures taken against Turkey, and mainly the latest presidential decree he signed on November 28 2015, in which sanctions were imposed on Turkey.

Those sanctions banned most Turkish products, halted the work of Turkish construction companies in Russian projects and banned Russian citizens from traveling to Russia. Those and many other procedures were adopted by Russia after the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter jet over the border with Syria on November 24 of the same year.

Following the incident, Russian-Turkish ties froze for months, till a reconciliation meeting was held between the presidents of the two countries in August 2016. After this meeting, Russia began gradually canceling the punitive measures it took against Turkey.

In his last decree, Putin lifted restrictions on Turkish companies operating in Russia and ended a ban on employing Turkish workers in the country. He also partially restored a bilateral agreement on visa-free movement between the two countries.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the last presidential decree came based on the agreements held between Putin and Erdogan during their last talks in the city of Sochi in May. However, he noted that the export of Turkish tomatoes is still suspended.

Russia’s decision on maintaining the ban of Turkish tomatoe exports raised tension between the two countries; Ankara announced the cancellation of fiscal exemption on Russian cereals. However, it reconsidered its decision after the Russian sanctions lift and the agreement to continue discussions on tomato export.

Russian Minister of Agriculture Aleksandr Tkachyov said Russia produces over 800,000 tones of tomato annually, therefore, the country needs a market that provides it with 500,000 extra tons. However, within five or seven years, Russian producers will be able to fill the local demand.

The minister expected Russia to become a tomato exporter within seven years. For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich suggested that Moscow may resume the import of Turkish tomato for a limited season in line with the decline of the local product in the summer.

Moscow also announced that flights with Ankara have been resumed after the Turkish side adopted safety-guarantying procedures.

In July 2016, the Russian civil aviation authority announced the suspension of flights to Turkey following the turmoil driven by the failed coup attempt. However, this decision didn’t last long. During the tomato crisis between Moscow and Ankara last month, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency released a memo to notify the political companies about the possibility of canceling all commercial flights (Charter) to Turkey. These flights depend mainly on transporting millions of Russian tourists to Turkish resorts. This warning had a limited effect on the travel to Turkey.

Finally, in line with the Kremlin and government decisions to suspend all the procedures taken against Turkey, the Federal Air Transport Agency released another decision in June to annul the warning concerning banning charter flights. The Russian market reacted positively with the annulment, and the demand on flights from Russia to Antalya and other Turkish touristm cities hiked.

Although all the new Russian economic punitive procedures against Turkey were suspended, the ban between Moscow and Cairo is ongoing and applies to private and governmental aviation companies.

The flight ban to Egypt was taken following the crash of a Russian airplane in the Sinai desert in 2015 due to a terrorist attack, which killed 224 tourists who were on board.

To resume flights between both countries, especially from Russia to Egyptian resorts, Moscow urged Cairo to improve its security measures in airports and resorts. Both parties formed technical committees to respond to the Russian request concerning security.

Russian sources talked about a possible resumption in flights, and many hoped the problem would be solved after the meetings held between Russian ministers with their Egyptian counterparts and President Sisi. However, those discussion didn’t lead to an agreement.

According to Russian newspaper Kommersant, Cairo is not yet ready to host Russian experts assigned to manage the security procedures, and believes such a move violates its sovereignty.