It is a perfect country where perfect people live, Ambassador Alexei Yerkhov tells reporters in Moscow

Russia's new Ambassador to Ankara Alexei Yerkhov has praised Turkey, describing the nation as friendly, hospitable and honorable.

Yerkhov replaces Andrey Karlov who was assassinated in Ankara on Dec. 19. Karlov was delivering a speech at the opening of an art gallery when an armed assailant shot him several times.

Russia announced the new envoy’s name in June; he previously headed the Foreign Ministry's Crisis Management Center.

"It is a perfect country where perfect people live. Turkish people are very good, hospitable, friendly, proud and honorable," Yerkhov told reporters in Moscow.

About the relationship between the two countries, he said Turkey will always have an important place in Russia's foreign policy.

Turkey is also a significant partner of Russia in resolving the Syrian crisis, he said.

"We continue bilateral negotiations actively” in the conflict zone, truce and other issues, he said.

Turkish-Russian relations were tested after Karlov's assassination. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the shooting a "provocation" designed to undermine bilateral ties.

Since civil war in Syria erupted in March 2011, more than 250,000 people have been killed, according to the UN. The Syrian Center for Policy Research puts the death toll at more than 470,000.

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