Ankara, October 10, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Manolis Kostidis
Energy, Syria, weapon systems in the agenda
For the third time in two months President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Vladimir Putin, showing that between Ankara and Russia there is something more than a mere restoration of relations. It is no coincidence that the two leaders during these past two months talked on the phone four more times.
The Russian President arrived in Istanbul on noon Monday to attend the Energy Conference. But the real reason for the presence of Putin was the meeting with his Turkish counterpart. The meeting between the two men lasted two hours with issues included in the agenda. Interestingly enough, in the room where the meeting took place arrived the Chief of the General Staff of the Tukish Armed Forces, Hulusi Akar.
The main objective of the two sides is energy cooperation, but also finding a common denominator in the developments in Syria.
Already the Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak announced that during the week will be signed the agreement on the construction of the Russo-Turkish Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline. The particular pipeline would carry Russian gas to Europe via the Black Sea to Turkey and from there to the rest of Europe through Greece. With this pipeline Moscow will reduce its dependence on Ukraine, from which pass most pipelines that transport gas to European countries.
“For 50 years we are giving energy to the EU. Together with Erdogan and our other partners we are discussing the Turkish Stream and we want to construct it”, Putin said at the energy conference.
The Turkish President said that Turkey aims “to produce 10% of our energy needs through nuclear power plants”.
In parallel, the two leaders agreed to activate the works of the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Turkey by russian companies. The construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which will be located in southern Turkey, had already began but the project was frozen after the shooting down by the Turkish Air Force of a Russian warplane in November 2015. The removal of the Russian sanctions came after the apology Erdogan issued to Putin in July and one of the first projects that will start is the nuclear power station.
The construction is an investment of more than USD 20 billion to be invested by russian companies.
Turkey and Russia remain at different camps on the issue of Syria. Moscow supports Bashar al-Assad while Turkey until recently supported the rebels. However, the differences have lessened, with Ankara not demanding any more the immediate removal of the Syrian President, while information in the Turkish press say that support for the rebels has almost stopped completely. After the restoration of relations, russian air defense systems no longer lock the Turkish warplanes flying near the border with Syria.
The pro-government television network AHaber sites sources from the Foreign Ministry, according to which Turkey will ask for an offer to purchase Russian anti-aircraft systems.
Information also indicates that the signatures for the Turkish Stream will be on the agreements before the end of the conference on energy.