'Decrease impact of Russian energy' says Latvian leader

ISTANBUL – Latvia’s president, Andris Berzins, has told a business forum in Istanbul that his country wants to see a decrease in the impact of Russian energy.

During Thursday’s visit to Istanbul Berzins said that the EU and NATO’s focus on Turkey and its immediate region showed that Turkey was gaining “more importance”.

Speaking at a Turkish-Latvian Business Forum, Berzins noted that as Turkey wanted to be one of the top ten world economies within the next ten years and Latvia wanted to achieve the European Union’s average standard of living within the same timeframe, the two countries could reach these targets by developing cooperation.

"This visit will initiate cooperation between Latvia and Turkey. We have many things in common. We have similar development and future plans. However, the bilateral trade volume between the two countries is not enough," Brezins added.

Noting that major Latvian firms had close relations with Turkish companies, Berzins said that trade between the two countries could be increased by a project called 'ZUR' which aims to connect the Baltic Sea with Black Sea.

Turkish agriculture minister Mehdi Eker said the country was interested in closer cooperation with Latvia in economy, tourism, culture and other areas.

Eker, claiming that trade between the two countries reached over US$300 million in 2013, said this amount was not enough and called on Latvian businessmen to invest in Turkey. 

"In 2015, we will celebrate the 90th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Latvia", said Eker, adding that Turkey was pleased with Latvia's support for its EU membership process.

"Hopefully we will make some progress in the EU accession process. We appreciate Latvia's support regarding Turkey's EU membership and hope to get the chance to open some chapters for negotiation under Latvia's presidency," Eker said.

President Brezlin has extended an invitation to Turkey’s head of state, Abdullah Gul, to visit Latvia.

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