Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024
Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu At a Joint Press Availability

FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU: (Via interpreter) Distinguished members of the press, today (inaudible) together with my distinguished friend, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony Blinken, in Ankara.  Following the earthquake disaster, we received a lot of messages of condolence and support from the U.S.A.  President Biden personally called our president and expressed his feelings of solidarity and indicated that they are ready to provide all kinds of support.  My distinguished counterpart and my distinguished friend Tony called me twice before the visit and extended his feelings of solidarity.  And in addition to the request that Türkiye made, he asked whether we needed anything additional.  I would like to thank him.

Yesterday, we paid a visit to the earthquake disaster zone, and we conducted our visit in that area.  Many U.S. institutions and enterprises are actually providing humanitarian assistance activities in this area, and many individuals and many institutions in the U.S.A. – some companies, and my distinguished friend met with some of them, as well as NGOs – are providing assistance and are organizing assistance campaigns.  And we are grateful for this support, both to the U.S. administration as well as to the people of United States of America.  We would like to thank them for the solidarity and support they have extended in these dire days.

Distinguished members of the press, we have an extensive agenda with U.S.A, and we met in Washington with my distinguished counterpart a month ago for the Strategic Mechanism meeting.  And we agreed that we should have meetings twice on an annual basis, and we would like to conduct the second meeting in the second half of this year, but the – the preparations are ongoing.  Our common aim is actually to increase the opportunities existing in our relations, as well as turning these into concrete gains, and also effectively manage the problems and the issues raising.  And, of course, this is the main philosophy behind the Strategic Mechanism.

Economy and trade is actually one of the pioneering items of the positive agenda.  Last year, the trade volume reached $32 billion, and we would like to continue working to reach the $100 billion target.  The mutual investments are increasing.

Military relations are an important dimension of our strategic partnership, but of course, due to unilateral sanctions, the cooperation in the field of defense industry is facing difficulties.  And we need to overcome these difficulties, and the sanctions, we expect them to be lifted in the earliest opportunity.

We also reviewed the (inaudible) status quo pertaining to our F-16 request and we discussed this with our colleagues.  The U.S. administration strongly supports our request.  We are thankful for this support, and the official notification, if it’s done to the Congress in the earliest opportunity and the ratification process is completed at the earliest opportunity possible, is going to be benefiting for both side.  Of course, there could be difficulties arising in the U.S. Congress, but the delays or the obstruction by certain circles in this process should not be allowed, and the U.S. Congress should not be obstructing, rather undertaking a role of support.

Of course, meeting this request is important in terms of our bilateral relations, but it’s also important in terms of the NATO defense capabilities.  And, of course, in the dialogue with the U.S. Congress, the U.S. administration have clearly underlined this fact.

Of course, fighting against terrorism – counterterrorism – is amongst the items of our joint agenda.  We have certain expectations pertaining to the support rendered to PKK/YPG and the ending of the existence (inaudible), and we have once again underlined our expectations and the U.S. side is aware of this.

There are certain issues of consular matters which we undertook during the meeting today with our colleagues, especially the visa application processes.  There are serious delays.  There was some acceleration at one point, but there is now a waiting period up to six months, and we extended our request for the acceleration.

And, of course, in relation to security threats, we do believe that we should have a coordination and cooperation with respect to such declarations and warnings on security.

During our meetings we discussed also the international and regional issues.  In addition to bilateral matters, we talked about the Southern Caucasus.  In the recent periods, both me and my distinguished friend Tony have contacted both the Azerbaijan as well as the Armenian side.  Our aim is to have a stable peace and stability in Southern Caucasus, and we will continue to strive to this end.

In relation to the expansion of NATO, which was another matter that we discussed, we underlined once again our expectations from the two candidate members to NATO.  In the coming period, the permanent – the Standing Committee meeting is going to take place, which is going to take place in Brussels in NATO, and our colleagues will discuss which steps have been taken and which steps have not been taken.  Together with our colleagues from NATO and also participating countries, this will give us an opportunity to transparently identify this issue.

We also discussed the Israel and Palestine issue.  We’re worried about some of the steps that have been taken, especially the illegal settlements, and also the steps that have been taken needs to be finalized.  The declarations of the United States sides we do believe are very positive.

We also discussed the issue of Syria, and we discussed the issue of assistance that is going to be provided to Syrian people following the earthquake.  And we also had an opportunity to bilaterally discuss these issues.

I would like to thank for this very open, frank, and productive meeting to my distinguished counterpart, and I would also like to thank them for siding with us and supporting us during these difficult times.  And thank you for your visit, my distinguished friend.  The floor is yours.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mevlut, my friend, thank you very, very much.  This has been an important opportunity to visit our Turkish allies and friends in a moment of real need, and to bring a clear message from President Biden and from the American people:  The United States is here to support you in your time of need, and we will be by your side for as long as it takes to recover and to rebuild.

Yesterday, as my first stop on this trip, I visited Incirlik Air Base, which, as you know, is the hub of the United States efforts to support the disaster response.  With the foreign minister, with Mevlut, I had the opportunity to fly over Hatay Province to look at some of the devastation firsthand.  And as I said yesterday, it’s hard to put into words: countless buildings, communities, streets, damaged or fully destroyed.

I met with a number of the responders: U.S. military officials; our team from the U.S. Agency for International Development; members of the incredible American Disaster Assistance Response Team; search and rescue teams from Los Angeles on one coast to Fairfax County, Virginia on the other, where I live; our White Helmet partners in Syria.  All of them have seen the staggering toll of this catastrophe – all of them are committed to being there for our friends in this moment.

We began our own assistance to the rescue and relief efforts within hours of the first quake, when President Biden directed the heads of our federal agencies to rapidly mobilize to assist the Government of Türkiye and our humanitarian response partners in Syria.

We have sent hundreds of U.S. Government personnel to the region – including the disaster assistance response and search and rescue teams, and also emergency managers, paramedics, hazardous materials technicians, and engineers.

We’ve sent approximately 1.8 million pounds of relief supplies for survivors – shelter, kitchen sets, blankets, hygiene kits, and more – and more is on the way.

We’re continuing to announce additional assistance, new funding to support these efforts.  Yesterday I announced an additional $100 million from the United States on top of the $85 million we’ve already provided.  The American people – communities and businesses, as Mevlut said – have seen the heartbreaking images and they have been standing up, too.  We have nearly $80 million in donations from the private sector in the United States, individuals.  When I visited the Turkish embassy in Washington, I almost couldn’t get in the front door because boxes were piled high throughout the driveway to the embassy.

Now, Türkiye faces a long road ahead to support those rendered homeless, and to rebuild.  The UN secretary-general has put out a very important, urgent appeal for $1 billion for long-term assistance, and we’re committed to providing support.

Just as allies and partners show up for each other in our darkest hours, we also stand side by side in confronting common security challenges.  And that’s certainly been true in our response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Türkiye’s clear voice in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has been critical.

Its diplomatic leadership – the foreign minister’s personal role in brokering the UN Black Sea Grain Initiative – has been critical, and critical to making sure that food and food products could get to people in need around the world, including many people in low-income countries.

Its continued implementation of the Montreux Convention deterred naval escalation in the Black Sea and helped protect Ukraine’s coastline.

Türkiye’s humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine – providing initial safe haven for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian onslaught, supplying hundreds of generators for cities amid blackouts as Russia continues to attack the electricity grid – that has saved lives in Ukraine.

And its position as a key energy transit hub has bolstered energy security, bringing alternative natural gas supplies – international LNG, as well as Caspian Sea gas – to Europe.

The United States greatly values Türkiye’s contributions as a longstanding and active member of the NATO Alliance, and we’ll keep working together to strengthen and grow our Alliance – including through the accession of Sweden and Finland, which will help deliver even stronger and more capable assets to the Alliance.

Türkiye and the United States are also partnering to fight global terrorism and to advance peace in the Balkans and the Caucasus and other global hotspots.  We very much appreciate the positive steps that Türkiye is taking to improve relations with Greece, with Armenia, with Israel – whose citizens, by the way, have been working side by side with their colleagues from Türkiye in response to the earthquake.  And we’re committed to maintaining our very close defense cooperation, including by ensuring that Türkiye remains a highly capable air power contributor within the NATO Alliance.

We’re focused on expanding the robust trade, investment, and economic cooperation between our countries.  As Mevlut said, we had a very good year last year.  Trade exceeded a record $30 billion.  We’re eager to build on that foundation, to pursue new opportunities, particularly in the renewables sector.  Türkiye has invested over $16 billion in renewables over the last five years, and is pursuing ambitious goals to increase capacity over the next five years.  We look forward to setting up a Climate and Energy Dialogue to accelerate these efforts, while also creating jobs and inclusive economic growth for both of our countries.

Beyond these shared interests, United States and Türkiye have a relationship that is built on shared values – values of democracy, respect for basic universal freedoms, for human rights.  And today, we had an opportunity to discuss those principles, as we always do in our conversations.

And like all good friends, the United States and Türkiye do not agree on every issue.  But like good friends, ours is a partnership that has withstood extraordinary change and some significant challenges, and will continue to do so, particularly because we’re able to speak so directly and candidly to each other.

Later today, I’ll have the privilege of visiting the Anitkabir, the resting place of the founder of the Turkish Republic.

In the heart of our own capital stands a monument to one of our own great independence leaders and founders, George Washington. One hundred and seventy years ago, when the Washington Monument was being constructed, Sultan Abdul Mejid sent a marble plaque to be placed on the obelisk.  And the words on that stone were inscribed by the same calligrapher whose work graces the Hagia Sophia.  His message can still be made out, 170 years later:  “In support of eternal friendship.”

Today, that commitment not only endures, but continues to grow and to flourish, as I’m convinced it will for generations.

MODERATOR:  (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Ecem Toplar from Bengu Turk TV.  This is going to be question to both ministers.  Minister Cavusoglu (inaudible) that the U.S. administration supports, but this process in the Congress is not clear.  When do you expect the official notification to – done?  And is there any expectation that there will be an obstruction?  Because we know that certain senators have written to President Biden.  And in addition to this, for Türkiye there is 1 billion payment that has been made for F-35.  What is the last situation and the status quo on this payment?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much for the question.  With regard to the F-16s, the Biden administration strongly supports the package to both upgrade the existing F-16s and to provide new ones to Türkiye, because as a NATO Ally and partner, it is in our national interest and the security interest of the Alliance that Türkiye continue to be able to operate at the higher standards of NATO to make sure that we have full interoperability.

On this particular matter, I can’t offer you an assessment or get into the process until after we formally notify our Congress, but it’s something that we’re working on and we’ve made very clear to Congress our strong support for the F-16 modernization.  We have longstanding defense and security ties, and as the President has said – as President Biden has said – Turkish NATO interoperability remains a priority for us.

FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much.  As I mentioned during my remarks, we clearly stated our expectations pertaining to the F-16.  There is will on the U.S. administration side, and we are aware of certain letters that have been written by some circles and some senators.  On one hand, we are working on this in terms of delegations, technical delegations, and if the U.S. administration has a firm stance and if we work together, we believe that we can overcome this resistance that might exist.

These two independent issues, especially pertaining to two states becoming full member to NATO to be the precondition of the purchase of F-16 – these are not related issues.  They are different negotiations.  For both sides there is an MOU that has been signed – a trilateral MOU – so it will not be correct to put this as a precondition, or, of course, it will not be possible for us to purchase F-16 with certain conditions.  Our hands should not be tied, so we should have a common stance as the administration of Türkiye and the administration of U.S.  This is critical.

On the issue of the F-35, we were a partner to the F-35, and because of the CAATSA sanctions, Türkiye was taken out of this partnership.  This was a unilateral decision.  It wasn’t our decision.  There is a payment that we have made, $1.4 billion, and if Türkiye is not in the program, of course, expecting that this money is to be paid back to us is only natural.  And negotiations are continuing on this.  On 18th of January when we met with my counterpart in Washington, D.C., the experts also discussed the issue of F-35 on the same day.  And, of course, it will be beneficial to reach a conclusion to this ASAP.

QUESTION: Thank you.  Reuters, Humeyra Pamuk. (Via interpreter) Thank you.  Reuters, Humeyra Pamuk.  Minister, the relations between Türkiye and U.S. have been continuing in a negative way, and there are differences of opinions – the F-16s, Sweden and Finland.  Also, on the issue of earthquake, you have indicated that there is strong solidarity.  Do you believe that this tragedy that we experienced will be an occasion for a new page in the relations between the two countries?

And NATO countries and U.S. are expecting Türkiye to ratify the membership application of both Sweden and Finland before the Vilnius summit.  Will Türkiye be able to meet this requirement?

(In English) Ties between your two countries have been in a bad place.  You yourself described Türkiye in your confirmation hearing two years ago as a so-called ally.  But I wonder if the experience of the earthquake has created an opportunity for a reset between the two countries.

And a follow-up to my colleague’s question on the F-16:  You just said you can’t assess a timeline for the formal notification.  What exactly is the United States waiting for?  Are you waiting for Türkiye to approve the Nordic expansion?  And what will you do to convince the U.S. Congress to be on board?  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much.  Of course, the solidarity that has been extended during difficult times always have a positive effect on relations, and it contributes to those relations.  We might have differences of opinions with the United States of America, and these issues are clear, but the positive agenda and focusing on the positive agenda – and there is also a will to develop our relations further.

Therefore, during the meeting in Rome, President Biden and President Erdogan discussed the establishment of the Strategic Mechanism.  The aim behind this, as I have mentioned – the philosophy behind this – is to focus on the positive agenda and develop relations on a bilateral basis in different platforms and increase cooperation in regional and global issues.

The second aim is actually to discuss the existing problems and discuss how these problems could be resolved and take steps accordingly.  In this direction, both at expert level and at the ministerial level, we met twice, and I do believe that such meetings have been very beneficial.  When the foreign minister of Greece visited our country, as I said during the press meeting, for developing relations or for resolving existing problems, we should not wait for a disaster to take place and we should take sincere and concrete steps in this direction.

The membership of Sweden and Finland, if you follow the declarations on our side – and I do know that the U.S. is following this closely – we have a trilateral memorandum of understanding between these three countries, and it’s very clear as to what steps needed to be taken by which side.  Relatively, our problems with Finland are less, so the calendar that you have shared with respect to the NATO Summit in Vilnius – these are tied in relation to the steps that are to be taken by Sweden. 

There have been some positive messages, there have been legislative amendments and constitutional amendments undertaken by the Swedish side, but unfortunately, the PKK supporters and also in relation to financing of terrorism and (inaudible) for terrorism, as well as the terrorist propaganda – all activities are continuing.  And these are taking place in the center of Stockholm in front of the city building, and they are trying to eliminate Sweden’s membership to NATO.  But, of course, it’s up to Sweden to take relevant measures to eliminate such activities. 

We saw the sincere efforts of the prime minister, and he also had an opportunity to see the stance of all political parties in our parliament.  This is just – it isn’t just a matter of the government’s position.  So the faster and the better the Swedish side takes steps, if they take steps that will convince our parliament and our people, then we will take the relevant steps as well.

Of course, on the issue of Finland, we have indicated that there could be a different methodology followed.  This was a message that our president shared with the secretary general of NATO last week.  Here we are especially waiting for the Swedish side to take concrete steps, and everybody should support Sweden to take these concrete steps.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Humeyra, thank you.  I don’t share the premise of the question about the nature of our or status of our relationship.  As I laid out in my opening statement, Türkiye and the United States are working closely together across multiple fronts, whether it’s in our own bilateral relationship, whether it’s in the region, Europe more broadly, or for that matter around the world.  And it’s a partnership that we greatly value.

With regard to the F-16s, I can’t give you a timeline on formal notification.  What I can tell you is I have already been actively engaged in speaking to Congress about the administration’s strong support for the F-16 package, the upgrade, modernization package.  And I have shared, again, our view that this is very important for ongoing NATO interoperability and in the national security interest of the United States.

The matter of Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO is not a bilateral issue.  Of course, as you know well, we strongly support their admission as quickly as possible.  Both are members already of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, NATO’s Enhanced Opportunity Partnership.  Their militaries work seamlessly with the rest of the Alliance.  We’re confident that NATO will formally welcome them in soon, and when that happens, it will enhance the security of every NATO member, including the United States, including Türkiye.

Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfill the commitments that they made under the trilateral memorandum of agreement that they signed with Türkiye on the margins of the NATO Summit in Madrid.  We welcome and appreciate those steps.  I think they’re quite significant.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. Emre Karaca from Haber (inaudible).  My question is to Secretary of State Blinken, and I would also like to ask Minister Cavusoglu to comment on my question.  I’m going to be focusing on Syria.  In relation to border security and the PKK/YPG presence in Syria, there are certain worries, and there have been some agreements rendered with the United States of America, and Türkiye has indicated that expectations have not been met.  Likewise, in relation to cooperation of U.S.A with PKK/YPG, there are some worries as well.  Was this issue raised during your deliberations?  And what is the U.S. side going to take in terms of steps to overcome the reservations of Türkiye?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much for the question.  Yes, we did discuss this, and as we’ve said in the past and as I reiterated today, we very much recognize Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns about its southern border – just, as I believe, Türkiye recognizes our legitimate and, indeed, shared security concerns about Daesh and the possibility of its re-emergence.  We will continue to work closely together to address both of those concerns. 

In the immediate moment, of course, we’re both very much focused on humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria, who, like the people of Türkiye, have suffered terribly from the earthquake, and we’re working together to maximize the support that can get to them.  As you know, there has been only one official border crossing recognized under a UN Security Council resolution for purposes of the UN providing assistance.  That’s deeply unfortunate because, as a result of repeated Russian efforts over the years, the number of crossings has been reduced from four to one. 

We now have information that the Assad regime will allow access through two other border crossings.  We’ll see what actually materializes in practice, but everything else aside, it is vitally important that all of us do everything we possibly can to maximize support to the people of Syria, just as we’re maximizing support to the people of Türkiye to deal with the horrific effects of the earthquake.

By the way, the United States over the last decade or so since the outbreak of the war in Syria has been the leading humanitarian provider to people in Syria – $15 billion.  We do that through NGO partners.  It’s vitally important that they be able to do their work freely, safely, securely.  This is about the most basic needs of people who are in distress, and I hope we can all work together to meet those needs.

FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much.  You asked me to comment on this question as well.  Whether it’s Daesh or any other terrorist organization, we believe that cooperating with one terrorist organization to fight with another terrorist organization is a fatal mistake.  This is something that we repeatedly indicate.  Therefore, the allegation that PKK/YPG is fighting against Daesh – we have always proven that this allegation is not correct.  We as strong NATO Allies should be fighting all terrorist organizations, whatever the ideology, whatever the aim, whatever the target might be.  We need to fight against them together.  If there is political will, we also have the capacity to fight together as Türkiye and the U.S.A.

There are two threats for NATO today.  The first threat is Russian Federation, and the second threat is terrorism.  Therefore, as NATO Allies, if we cannot fight on our own and we have to cooperate with a terrorist organization like PKK/YPG, which is an enemy to our state, that is not correct. 

In the relation to Syria, there have been some agreements with the American side.  One is the Manbij roadmap, and this other one is the joint declaration that was undertaken in Ankara.  In relation to this joint declaration, especially within the 30-kilometer deadline of our border, this was going to be an area that is cleansed of terrorist activity, and they would be sent to the south.  But as I have said during our meeting in Washington, D.C., we did not see a concrete step.  Therefore, we believe that we should fight against any type of terrorism altogether, and we should implement the agreements that we have stricken.

This is an earthquake and it is a civil issue, a humanitarian issue.  This is also the U.S. administration position.  So assisting the civilians that have been affected by the earthquake in Syria is our task and duty.  Some international organizations and some countries, when they’re providing humanitarian assistance to us, they asked us to deliver some part of this assistance to Syria, and this is how United Nations is delivering humanitarian assistance.  It’s our humanitarian obligation to deliver this. 

The Cilvegozu/Bab al-Hawa border gate – in addition to this, currently there is another border gate in Kilis which is open, and these border gates, we have indicated they are to be used for the United Nations site.  The United Nations approved of this decision, although it’s not in the Security Council decision because it’s a humanitarian situation, and some trucks passed through this border gate to deliver humanitarian assistance to the Afrin zone. 

So humanitarian issues are separated from political issues.  Our cooperation on humanitarian assistance shall continue, and (inaudible) thank you for the cooperation rendered.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.  Michael Crowley with The New York Times.  A question for each of you.  Secretary Blinken, you’ve been saying in recent days that China will face serious consequences if it supplies lethal aid to Russia to aid its war in Ukraine.  What might that entail?  Are you suggesting there could be U.S. sanctions?  And do you believe that other nations would also take steps to punish such an action by China?

Separately, I wonder if you could comment on a report that the IAEA has found nuclear material enriched to 84 percent in Iran.  Do you believe this is true?  And if so, what steps might the U.S. take in response?

Mr. Minister, U.S. officials have been frustrated to see a boom in trade between Türkiye and Russia in recent months, specifically including reportedly technology items that are subject to export bans and could be aiding Russia’s war machine.  Did you discuss this subject with the Secretary today?  And what is your response to these complaints?  Thank you both.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Michael, thank you.  With regard to China and Russia, as I said the other day and as other colleagues in the administration have said, we are concerned that China is considering supporting Russia’s war effort in Ukraine with lethal assistance.  It’s something that we’re watching very, very closely.  As I also said, and as President Biden said going back many months, when the aggression first took place and he spoke to President Xi Jinping – he told him at that point that there would be real consequences in our own relationship were China to provide lethal assistance to Russia in this aggression against Ukraine or in a systematic way aid in the evasion of sanctions.  And, as I said, we have a real concern that China is considering doing just that.

I’m not going to lay out what the consequences would be.  I shared these concerns directly with the senior Chinese foreign policy official, Wang Yi, when I saw him at the Munich Security Conference just the other day.  But I think China understands what’s at risk were it to proceed with providing material support of that kind to Russia.  I also know from conversations with many other countries, including in Munich, that many other countries would take very seriously the provision of such support by China to Russia, and this would be a real problem for China in its relationships with many other countries, not just the United States.  So we hope and expect that they will forebear for – from going down that road.

With regard to the reports of Iranian enrichment, yes, I’ve seen those reports.  We are in close contact with the IAEA, as well as with our partners – the E3 partners – in Europe.  We’re working to get more information, and when we do, I’ll have more to say.  But, of course, this would be a very serious matter.

FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU: (Via interpreter) In the pre-war period, as well as after the war was initiated, Türkiye has exhibited a very clear and principled approach.  On one hand, we are condemning the war, and as my counterpart has indicated, we are strongly supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  We are also condemning and not recognizing the results of the illegal referendum and the annexation of territory.  Also, in international platforms we take common and joint decisions. 

In the end, Türkiye’s position is very clear, and we are rigidly implementing the Montreux Convention.  We are even surpassing that and we are activating diplomatic channels discussing this with the Russian Federation as well as with our NATO Allies.  And we do not bypass the convention at all; we have not allowed any war or military vessel to trespass through our straits.

But on the other hand, Türkiye is not taking part in the sanctions.  We do not take part in the unilateral sanctions.  We do abide by the United Nations decisions, clearly, and during our meeting we also discussed how we can cooperate in these areas in relation to the financing of terrorism, et cetera.  So when we are fighting against terrorism, we need to actually fight against all aspects of terrorism, including its ideology.

On the other hand, for the sanctions imposed by U.S. and the EU, we have indicated from the very beginning that we’re not going to allow any bypassing of these sanctions through our country, and we do not allow this to take place.  The deputy treasury secretary came to Türkiye.  Our colleagues sat down and discussed this.  We are also receiving information from EU, and when necessary we assess this in our cabinet meeting.  There was some information that we received from the U.S. side, and we did not believe they were correct or they were exaggerated, but yet again we took certain measures.  So the products coming from EU not to be re-exported through our country – we are taking all relevant measures.

You need to act with a principled approach.  Our bilateral trade volume with the Russian Federation increased, but more than 60 percent of this is actually gas and energy that we purchase from the Russian Federation.  And unfortunately, because of the war, the gas prices tripled, so the trade gap increased.  In our export – our export also increased in relation to some food products and other products, but it is not like electronic products or technological products that would be used in the defense industry, and it’s not correct that we export such products to the Russian Federation.

To our American colleagues as well as to our colleagues from EU, we indicated that if they have any information or any documentation, they should share this with us.  And if there is any violation whatsoever, we will take the relevant measure because our stance is very clear.  Thank you.

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originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS