By Nazli Yuzbasioglu
There is a bright future ahead for the relations between Turkey and Belarus as the two countries share many common interests, Andrei Savinykh, the Belarussian ambassador to Turkey, said.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in Ankara, Savinykh said the relations between Turkey and Belarus, two countries with commonly-shared traditional values, were “entering a new stage”.
“It is easy for us to work together. I am sure that a very bright future is awaiting our relations,” he said.
“[It is] a very important new era in our relations. […] We have a very active dialogue on the level of the heads of state, on the level of presidents," he added.
Savinykh’s remarks came ahead of Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s two-day official visit to Belarus on Wednesday. Yildirim is scheduled to have a one-to-one meeting with his Belarussian counterpart Andrei Kobyakov. Delegations from both sides are also expected to meet.
The Turkish premier is also expected to meet Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko during his visit.
Savinykh termed Yildirim’s visit as a “new milestone”.
“We believe this is a very important visit. In fact, it is a very serious follow-up for the visit of your president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Minsk in November 2016,” he said.
Erdogan’s visit to Belarus was the first presidential visit from Turkey to Belarus.
“This visit of the prime minister is a very good chance to review the process of fulfillment of the agreements achieved at a presidential level and take further steps toward developing the economic relations between two countries,” the Belarussian ambassador said, adding that, with these visits happening, he could now anticipate a lot of other visits to take place.
“For example, we are talking about the possibility of the Belarussian foreign minister visiting Turkey in April.”
Savinykh noted that Belarus was like a bridge, a bridge between the West and the East.
“When you look at Turkey, you are also a bridge, a very important bridge between the West and the Middle East and Asian countries," he said.
“Very often, we are seeing the problems of the world as if through a single eye,” he noted. “We support Turkey’s election to the boards of international organizations just like Turkey supports Belarus."
Turkey was the first country to recognize the independence of Belarus. Diplomatic relations were established on March 25, 1992.
“This is a historic fact. We will remember that forever,” he said.
“We are talking about inviting Turkish banks to come to Belarus to establish banks on our soil. Why? Because we can also switch to using Turkish Lira in our foreign trade," the Belarus ambassador said.
“I am sure that this measure alone will enhance our trade relations manyfold,” he said. “The head of our central bank is ready to provide whatever assistance needed to support Turkish banks in Belarus.”
The trade volume between Turkey and Belarus totaled 461 million dollars in 2016 (with Turkish exports to Belarus at 358 million dollars and the volume of imports from Belarus worth 103 million dollars), according to the Turkish foreign ministry.
Cooperation in logistics field
Talking about the historic Silk Road from Turkey to Europe, Savinykh said: “China, together with Russia and Belarus and Germany, we are building the northern Silk Road, which is coming to Belarus, again also from China.”
“We [Turkey and Belarus] can cooperate to link these two Silk Roads and develop the old trade route from the north to the south. […] I believe it is a very important topic for the two governments to discuss and look into.”
“We are also talking about the possibility of a direct railroad connection between Belarus and Turkey, which would be another step forward in bringing the two countries together," he added.
The total amount of investments by 45 Turkish firms operating in Belarus currently stands at 1.2 billion dollars.