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Business

Russia gets tough on Turkey imports, projects

Russia has announced tighter controls of Turkish food imports, citing frequent violations of safety standards in the past few months. The Kremlin said it could easily buy agricultural produce from other nations instead.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered the government to draw up measures that would include freezing some joint investment projects with Turkey in response to the downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the Russian announcement as "emotional and unfitting of politicians."

Earlier in the day, government officials in Moscow said they would reinforce control over Turkish food imports.

They avoided establishing a direct link between the announcement and the

current tensions with Ankara

over the downing of the Russian jet.

Russia claimed some 15 percent of Turkish produce did not meet national safety standards, with levels of pesticides "considerably above allowed limits."

Feeling bitter

"Taking into account repeated violations by Turkish producers, the Russian government has tasked the food safety agency with reinforcing control over supplies of agricultural produce and food from Turkey," Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said in a statement.

In the past 10 months, Russia has imported produce and food from Turkey worth over $1 billion (942 million euros), with Turkish vegetables accounting for some 20 percent of Russia's overall vegetables imports.

Russia threatened it could opt to buy produce from alternative nations such as Iran, Israel and Uzbekistan, should food safety violations not stop. Moscow added it might also redirect its Turkish exports - including wheat and oil - to countries in the Middle East and Africa, should relations with Ankara worsen further.

hg/tko (AFP, Reuters)

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