Culture and Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal has described Russian sanctions as "unsustainable," adding that Ankara is open to dialogue with Moscow to resolve the recent political crisis. Ünal spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA) at the editors' desk meeting in Ankara, explaining that Turkey's tourism sector has been crippled by the Kremlin-imposed restrictions and that the sanctions are unsustainable. "Turkey does not want to lose the Russian market in [the tourism sector], but we will not depend only on Russian tourists," he said.
Tensions between Ankara and Moscow became heated following the downing of a Russian Su-24 aircraft by a Turkish F16 near the Turkish-Syrian border last month. Moscow tightened restrictions on Turkey in the wake of the incident, including a ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey and Russian travel agencies being told not to sell tours to Turkey.
Explaining that about 3 million to 4 million Russian tourists visit Turkey annually, Ünal said: "We are working on some measures against the sanctions. ...The crisis will end eventually, but we need to diversify the tourism sector."
According to Ünal, the energy and tourism sectors have always functioned as constructive factors in Turkish-Russian relations. "There are lots of Russian citizens who are in love with Antalya [a resort destination in southern Turkey]," he said. "Moscow has been using black propaganda about Turkey, but we will correct the misunderstanding," he asserted.
Russia is Turkey's second-largest trading partner, with business investments worth more than $32.7 billion annually, according to statistics from the Russian government. The Kremlin also plays a large role in the development of nuclear power plants in Turkey.
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