Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey, following the downing this week by Turkey of a Russian warplane. Putin’s decree also calls for ending visa-free travel between Russia and Turkey, which is worrying many tourism companies.
The decree came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voiced regret over the incident, saying his country was “truly saddened” by the event and wished it hadn’t occurred.
CCTV’s Natalie Carney reports from Istanbul.
Turks fear impact of Russian economic sanctionsRussian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey, following the downing this week by Turkey of a Russian warplane. Putin’s decree also calls for ending visa-free travel between Russia and Turkey, which is worrying many tourism companies. The decree came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voiced regret over the incident, saying his country was “truly saddened” by the event and wished it hadn’t occurred. CCTV's Natalie Carney reports from Istanbul.
Turkish beaches are a popular destination for Russian tourists, nearly 4.5 million million Russians visited Turkey last year alone, adding about $4 billion to Turkey’s economy. Russians also account for about 12 percent of all visitors to Turkey, according to Turkish government data.
Some of Russia’s top travel agencies have already stopped selling packages to Turkey, following warnings from their government against traveling here.
“It’s hard to even imagine now what we can suggest to those tourists because prices used to be the key factor for choosing Egypt all the time. Turkey was also not the most expensive destination. I think most of those tourists will either stay at home and some of them will choose our resorts,” Oksana Bulakh, commercial director for the Alean Tour Company said.
Meanwhile, Turkish food exports are facing tighter controls at Russian customs, placing pressure on the $6 billion trade. But the real stakes are in the energy sector.
Turkey imports roughly 65 percent of its natural gas needs from Russia. It has also awarded Russian state-owned Rosatom a $20 billion contract to build its first nuclear power plant. Both countries are also involved in the Turk Stream pipeline, a proposed natural gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey across the Black Sea.
Moscow has already announced it may impose measures to restrict the $13 billion project.
Yet with slumping economies in both countries, can Turkey and Russia really afford to put the breaks on any economic cooperation
Economists forecast Turkey’s economy is estimated to grow less than 3 percent this year while Russia is bracing itself for its longest recessions in decades after the collapse in oil prices.
“I do not expect Russia to impose any sanctions on the energy front… After repeated crisis with Ukraine, Russia has been repeatedly blamed for using energy, especially natural gas, as a diplomatic leverage, as a weapon against its customers and Russia tried very hard to prove otherwise,” political scientist Ahmet Kasim Han said.
Falling gas prices, increased competition, and a transformation in the way gas is sold internationally would also make it difficult for Russia to find new customers.
“In the short run its going to affect Turkey and its going to hurt. There’s no doubt about that. But the mutual interdependency run so deep so I do not think these are sustainable in the long run. What I expect is after the political score is settled, these sanctions will go away… silently,” Kasim Han said.
Turkey President Erdogan stops short of apology for downed Russian plane
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he is saddened by the downing of a Russian warplane, but his conciliatory remarks fell short of the full apology Russia has demanded for the incident.
CCTV’s Michal Bardavid reports from Istanbul.