Turkey, Russia indispensable partners, says new Russian ambassador to Ankara

Turkey and Russia are vital partners to each other, according to Aleksei Yerhov, the new Russian ambassador to Ankara appointed to replace the late Andrey Karlov, who was assassinated last year in the Turkish capital.

“We began to understand each other much better after the incidents occurred between us in the last one-and-a-half years. I would like to mention very clearly that Turkey is Russia’s indispensable partner in finding a permanent and a final solution to the Syria crisis,” Yerhov told daily Hurriyet in an interview.

“There is no subject left undiscussed and unapproached between us, all the way from the Kurdish matter in Syria to other sensitive issues. We are looking for a way out by talking openly with each other about everything,” he said.

The Astana talks, an initiative led by Turkey, Russia and Iran to introduce a solution to the Syrian war, is an “evidence” of the improving relations between the two countries, Yerhov said.

“The firm dialogue between us will continue, and I hope that not only the Syria issue but a range of problematic issues will be solved,” he added.

Karlov was killed on Dec. 19, 2016, by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, an off-duty police officer, in central Ankara at an exhibition.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office identified five suspects in connection with the murder of Karlov and is pursuing the possibility that one of the five might have ordered the assassin police officer to kill the envoy, according to June 12 media reports.

Russia on May 18 appointed Yerhov as its new ambassador to Ankara, five months after the assassination.

The murder came after a resolution process between the two countries following a crisis that emerged after Turkey downed a Russian jet for violating its airspace.

Yerhov said Karlov was his close friend.

“Of course, when I start my active duty in Ankara, we plan a range of works for his name Karlov to pass in history.”

The ambassador also said tourism between Russia and Turkey is a precious issue.

“We expect 3 million Russian tourists to visit Turkey by the end of 2017,” he added.

There was a sharp fall in the number of Russian tourists coming to Turkey after the jet crisis.

Russia had introduced sanctions on Turkey after the jet crisis but lifted them all gradually, singling tomatoes out.

“The tomato issue is a process. It doesn’t get solved by laying hands on it. Both countries’ authorities are negotiating. I expect they will find a way soon,” Yerhov said.

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