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Oligarchs can do business in Turkey if it's not illegal, says Cavusoglu

Foreign minister says Turkey will 'allow any legal and legitimate activities'
Bermuda-flagged luxury yacht My Solaris, belonging to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, is docked at the Turkish coastal resort of Bodrum on 21 March 2022 (AFP)

Russian oligarchs are welcome in Turkey as both tourists and investors as long as they don't break any rules, according to foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Speaking on Saturday to CNBC at the Doha Forum in Qatar, Cavusoglu said: "We implement UN-approved sanctions, so if any Russian citizens want to visit Turkey, of course, they can visit Turkey.

"Now Russians are coming to visit Turkey, that's no problem."

Asked if this meant they could do business in the country, he replied: "So, if you mean that these oligarchs can do any business in Turkey, then of course if it is legal and it is not against international law, I will consider.

"If it is against international law, then that's another story."

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Due to worldwide sanctions, many international companies and Russian oligarchs have left Russia, with some ending up in Turkey.

Two super-yachts belonging to the sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich docked in Turkish ports earlier this week. 

Istanbul has also become one of the main destinations for Russians fleeing their country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to make an "honourable exit" from the war in Ukraine on Thursday, as the conflict continues to rage.

Russia-Ukraine: Erdogan calls on Putin to make 'honourable exit' from war
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Speaking to reporters in Brussels during a Nato summit on Thursday, the Turkish president said he would be talking to Putin over the weekend to try and convince him to end the fighting in Ukraine.

"I will look for ways to end this issue by telling him to become an architect for peace and make an honourable exit," Erdogan told the journalists who accompanied him.

Erdogan also said that Turkey would welcome any international companies leaving Russia.

"We will also keep our doors open to the capital groups that would like to park their potential in Turkey," he said, without specifying whether that would be Russian capital - including that of the oligarchs - fleeing the country.

Turkey has repeatedly said it would impose only UN sanctions, not specific unilateral sanctions against Moscow. 

The Turkish economy is reliant on the income from Ukrainian and Russian tourists, and experts expect a dramatic drop in arrivals this year. 

However, Erdogan said Turkey and Russia were negotiating a way to use the rouble and Turkish lira for tourism as Putin promised the Turkish leader he would encourage Russians to travel to Turkey.

He added that Turkey couldn't brush off its relations with Russia because of the interdependence on energy. He said he couldn't abandon Turkish people to the cold and stop Turkish industrial work by cutting Russian gas imports. 

"We are purchasing half of our gas from Russia," Erdogan said. "We are building the Akkuyu Nuclear Energy Plant with Russia."

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