REVISES HEADLINE; UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY TURKISH PRESIDENT
By Firdevs Bulut
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey is looking at ways to protect trade ties from the coronavirus fallout, and cooperation is key, said the nation’s president on Friday.
"Measures against COVID-19 could affect trade badly. For that reason we are working for practical solutions for tariffs and border controls, which will make public health its priority, but will also soften the damage to trade," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a Turkic Council Summit by video link.
Stressing cooperation, he added: "Turkey is at war with an unseen enemy, and the Turkic Council Summit will help strengthen our hand in the fight with COVID-19. We are facing a global socioeconomic crisis along with the pandemic."
"We’re working to be able to carry an extra 3,500 tons of products through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars [railway] line," Erdogan said.
He added that in the future the railway could be extended as far as Central Asia.
"Due to the closed roads, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have become important points of trade transit for Turkish carriers," Erdogan continued.
He called on the council members to "facilitate transit quotas, transit fees, drivers visas. We have limited our transits due to COVID-19, but we have never delayed any cargo travel as long as the necessary permits are there."
"Continuing free, open, and rule-abiding international trade and cargo carriers are vital for the continuity of the supply chain," he added.
Saying that the outbreak is also affecting the communications sector, Erdogan said, "I believe our council will also play a role in developing and implementing work on cyber-security."
Turkey has implemented pioneering measures for contact-free trade at its borders to maintain international commerce.
The Turkic Council, founded in 2009 as an intergovernmental organization aiming to promote comprehensive cooperation among Turkic-speaking states, includes Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey. Hungary obtained observer status in 2018.
On Thursday, 96 more people died from the coronavirus in Turkey, bringing the death toll to 908, and the total number of cases to 42,282. A total of 2,142 people have so far recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
Worldwide the pandemic has claimed lives of nearly 96,000 people, and infected over 1.61 million, while more than 361,000 people have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.