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Turkey and Russia’s tomato crisis explained, 25.08.17

Nearly two years after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet, relations between Ankara and Moscow are largely restored. The two countries last month signed an arms deal, but tomatoes are still a thorny issue.

Turkish and Russian delegations will meet in Turkey’s coastal city of Izmir on Friday to discuss trade and economic relations.

The humble tomato is also expected to be on the table — and it’s playing an outsized role in the talks.

The two countries — sometimes friends, sometimes frenemies — managed to sign an arms deal last month, but had failed to solve the tomato crisis.

How did the tomato crisis break out?

Relations between the nations were strained since November 2015, when Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet after it violated Turkish airspace.

In response, Russia imposed a raft of sanctions on Turkey.

In August 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin came together for the first time since 2015.

Ties have since largely normalised. Russia lifted its embargo on the import of 20 agricultural products from Turkey, but the ban on tomato imports remained in place.

Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi last May, at a time when the price of the vegetable had skyrocketed.

After his meeting with the Turkish president in Sochi, Putin said that Russia’s embargo on the import of tomatoes from Turkey and its visa restrictions on Turkish nationals will remain in force for the time being.

This led Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek to post this tomato picture on twitter.

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