Nuke deal signed during Erdoğan's Moscow visit


Nuke deal signed during Erdoğan's Moscow visit

Источник: Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held talks with Russian leaders Wednesday. While most discussions focused on oil pipelines, the two countries signed a joint declaration to cooperate in building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

The declaration was signed in Moscow by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yıldız. In November, Turkey canceled plans to award a contract to Russia’s ZAO Atomstroyexport to build the plant.

Meanwhile, at a joint press conference in Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan discussed increasing the use of the two countries’ national currencies in trade. Erdoğan said using national currencies are important because of fluctuations in world currency markets during.

Erdoğan was also expected to propose scrapping the visa regime between the two countries as part of what looks like Ankara’s new strategy of «visa diplomacy.»

«I have spoken to [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin about this before. I will bring it up again when we meet. I will suggest lifting the visa regime with Russia as well. At least in some areas we expect cooperation toward no visa requirements," Erdoğan said, according to the Doğan news agency. Turkey has removed visa restrictions with at least Albania, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya and Syria in the last six months.

Delivering a speech at a conference on «Turkey’s Foreign Policy» at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Erdoğan said the Turkish government built its foreign policy on «winning and making friends.»

Erdoğan said the Turkish government’s initial step with this objective was settlement of peace with all countries, indicating that the target had been achieved.

«Turkey lives in peace with all countries in the region. The steps that have been taken in areas of politics, military, economics, trade and culture are all obvious expressions of it," Erdoğan said. «Turkey is a country where constitutional and legal amendments were rapidly made to human rights, freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. Turkey is also a pioneering force of a civilization project where prosperity and permanent stability prevail. Turkey has fulfilled this with the steps taken on the ‘Alliance of Civilizations,’" he said, referring to the United Nations-sponsored initiative begun by Turkey and Spain.

Erdoğan said big steps were taken to improve relations between Turkey and neighboring Armenia. He said urgent steps were needed to end the occupation of Azerbaijani land, however, adding that the OSCE Minsk 3 Group had a vital role to play in this matter and should continue to perform its duty. The group consists of the United States, France and Russia, and Erdoğan said he believed Moscow could play a more active role in the process. He said the Nagorno-Karabakh problem had not been solved for 20 years even though the group was established to solve the issue.

Turkey in August agreed to allow Moscow to start surveys of its territorial waters in the Black Sea for Russia’s South Stream pipeline, which aims to pump Russian gas to Europe via a new route that bypasses Ukraine.

But Ankara is also a leading player in the European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline, which aims to carry gas from the Caspian Sea region to Europe and is seen as a way of reducing European reliance on Russian gas.

«The energy sphere has a very important significance. In this, we share a very developed cooperation," Erdoğan told Russian President Dimitry Medvedev in talks at his country residence outside Moscow. «Not only in the sphere of natural gas but in crude products, there exists a whole series of opportunities… I see this meeting as a huge opportunity.»

Medvedev, in turn, hailed the countries' «serious and major» cooperation. «The Russian-Turkish relationship is improving. It is really a strategic partnership," he said.

Erdoğan will later also meet with his Russian counterpart Putin for talks underscoring the warming relations between the former Cold War-era foes. A joint press conference is expected after the meeting.

NATO member Turkey, which has long pursued EU membership, has sought to downplay rivalry between the pipelines.

The daily Kommersant said there is speculation Ankara wants Moscow to participate in Nabucco and believes the need for South Stream may be reduced once Viktor Yushchenko, a foe of Russia, departs the Ukrainian presidency. «However, Moscow is not prepared to give up its beloved child," the newspaper added, referring to South Stream.

It is unclear whether gas supplies are sufficient to fill two pipelines, and Moscow is keen to complete South Stream ahead of its rival, with plans to go online with the pipeline’s section in Turkish waters as early as 2013.

The construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plants and plans to extend the existing Blue Stream gas pipeline linking the two countries are also on the agenda, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Turkey in turn is seeking Russian support for a planned Turkish oil pipeline to be built from the Black Sea port of Samsun to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. Russia will play an active role in the project and the two sides are in talks over Moscow taking a stake, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin told reporters on the sidelines of the meetings.

Talks are also expected to focus on security in the Caucasus region, where Turkey is increasingly presenting itself as a major diplomatic player. Turkey and Russia have joined efforts to broker peace between ex-Soviet states Azerbaijan and Armenia, which are still technically at war over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Shared concerns over stability in the Caucasus were tested as Russia fought a brief war with Georgia in August 2008, but Moscow has since played a role in the recent rapprochement between Turkey and its ally Armenia.

Russia is one of Turkey’s top trading partners and its main gas supplier, accounting for about 60 percent of the country’s gas imports. The countries had bilateral trade ties of $33.8 billion in 2008, the Kremlin said.

Распечатать страницу