Russia relaxes economic sanctions, visa rules on Turkey


Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey in this December 1, 2014 file photo. Putin signed a decree imposing economic sanctions against Turkey on Saturday, four days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/Files

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree relaxing some restrictions on Turkey over business and visa-free entry imposed after Ankara shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

A decree posted on the Kremlin website lifted a ban imposed from January 1, 2016, on Turkish construction and tour firms doing business in Russia.

It also reversed a measure barring Turkish companies from bringing in any new workers from the country.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the decree was a “formalization” of agreements reached between Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan at talks earlier in May.

Moscow also said it would allow certain frequent travellers such as airline crews visa-free entry for short trips but left in place a broader decision to halt visa-free travel for all Turks.

Putin said earlier in May that Russia would not lift the visa requirements, citing a growing terror threat.

Russia’s retaliatory economic sanctions after Ankara’s downing of its military plane in November 2015 were aimed at denting Turkey’s key tourism and agricultural sectors.

Relations were frozen for months between the countries but relaxed in the summer of 2016 when Putin and Erdogan began to bury the hatchet.

The decree will come into force immediately after being published on a governmental legal information site, where it has not yet appeared.

Russia this month also agreed to lift some of its trade sanctions against Turkey but kept in place a contentious ban on tomatoes, a major export.

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