Mustafa Varank: ‘Erdoğan has cordial relations with Tatarstan, he loves the Tatars’

How Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent invited the president of Turkey to Kazan via the head of the Ministry of Industry and Technology in the Republic of Turkey

Mustafa Varank: ‘Erdoğan has cordial relations with Tatarstan, he loves the Tatars’

Minister of Industry and Technology in the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Varank visited Tatarstan. He arrived in Kazan on 4 December and met with President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. After a meeting, the foreign guest and the Tatarstan leader answered journalists’ questions. The Turkish minister talked about areas of development of commercial and economic relations between the sides and promised to communicate the invitation to Kazan to the president of Turkey. Meanwhile, Minnikhanov set a goal of achieving a $3-billion trade turnover between Tatarstan and Turkey.

“I will tell Erdoğan that residents of Tatarstan want to see him”

Minister, what goals did you set before your visit to Tatarstan?

Tatarstan is part of our cooperation with the Russian Federation. We are linked not only with history. Moreover, 140 Turkish companies operate here, the total investments are equal to $2,5 billion. On the one hand, these companies make a significant contribution to the economy of Tatarstan, Russia. On the other hand, they facilitate Turkish exports. Now, under conditions of trade wars in the world, the expansion of our cooperation is a very important factor. We urge our companies to invest in the economy of Tatarstan and encourage their arrival in the republic. At the same time, we urge Tatarstan companies to invest in the economy of Turkey so that they will make their considerable contribution to the domestic Turkey market and be promoted to third countries’ markets.

The president of Tatarstan invited me during Innoprom. My main goal is to see first-hand what you have here now and assess how we will develop our cooperation further. My visit has been fruitful. One Turkish company has already signed a contract for $50 billion of investments. We’ve had several talks on the possibility of developing the production of halal goods, innovative technologies, cooperation in science, IT and education. Every side provided its answer to the question of how we could resolve existing issues and what we could do in the future. We work in this respect year after year. However, my visit goes on. I will visit Alabuga Special Economic Zone will be on Thursday where I will look over the production facilities of Turkish companies.

We would like to learn about the situation of talks of Coşkunöz Holding, a big car spare parts producer, with AvtoVAZ.

Coşkunöz is a powerful producer of car spare parts not only in Russia but also in the Turkish market. There is progress within the agreement that was reached. Coşkunöz has every chance of developing given the opportunities provided here, in Tatarstan. Together with purchases that they made here, production, they would like to take advantage of financial sources in Russia too. We hope they will develop and expand their business.

[Question from Realnoe Vremya] Mustafa Bey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan often visited Kazan the previous years. Do you know when the president of Turkey will pay a visit to Tatarstan?

Our president is a world leader. He has to visit a lot of countries and it is hard to reduce this number. Today he is in England at a NATO meeting. Most importantly, our president has cordial relations with Tatarstan, he loved Tatarstan and the Tatars. I will orally deliver your question as an invitation. I will tell him that citizens of Kazan, residents of Tatarstan want to see him. We will hope he will certainly come here at the earliest opportunity. And when the president of Tatarstan visits Turkey, he can also ask him.

$3 billion is a possible task”

Mr Minnikhanov, the minister said that Tatarstan and Turkey might go back to the turnover equal to $1 billion. How can these indicators be achieved? And what agreements does Tatarstan plan to sign with Turkish companies?

First of all, I would like to thank the minister, the ambassador for the support. The minister had a tight schedule: he visited Innopolis, got acquainted with the helicopter factory’s work. Tomorrow he has a scheduled visit to KAMAZ, Neftekamsk. We have big exporters. If we reached last year’s level [in turnover] in 9 months this year, it means there is potential. Once we reached $3 billion too — there were big oil supplies. But we are discussing work in the production of halal goods, mechanical engineering. This task [of reaching $3bn] isn’t easy for us, but I have no doubt that it is possible. This is why we plan the next visit of our delegation [to Turkey] in April.

We will meet the agreements that are signed today considering the possibilities our Turkish partners have. But I can’t say that plus $20 million is the latest factories. 97% of workers are residents of Tatarstan. These enterprises are aimed at import substitution and have huge potential. If we used to import medium-density fibreboards, now we are a big MDF exporter. With Şişecam we discussed possibilities of exports of auto glass to Germany. This indicates the technological level of products. And there is plenty of such examples. The same Coşkunöz is a global company that specialises in punching. The cabin that will be manufactured for KAMAZ with Mercedes will be made by Coşkunöz.

I have no doubt that there are a lot of such areas for our joint work. Within close contact between our leaders — Mr Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin — our countries have very good relations. This is why we will be able to perform the tasks given by our governors.

By Timur Rakhmatullin