RUSSIA, TURKEY SIGN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT DEAL
May 12 2010
Russia and Turkey signed on Wednesday a $20 billion project for Moscow
to build and own a controlling stake in Turkey’s first nuclear power
plant, as the two Cold War-era rivals try to cement a strategic
Several agreements, including removing visa restrictions and shipping
oil products from the Black Sea, were struck during a landmark visit
by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Turkey, aiming to turn itself
into an energy hub for European supplies.
Russia has built nuclear power plants in nations from China to Iran
and might build a power plant in Syria, as it aggressively seeks deals
to build new stations and boost its presence in foreign energy markets.
Nuclear agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko said state-controlled building
group Atomstroiexport will lead construction of the plant on NATO
member Turkey’s southern coast.
"It’s an extremely important contract for us," Kiriyenko told
Turkey is keen to reduce its dependence on imported energy and cover
a looming power shortfall. Russia provides 60 percent of Turkey’s
gas needs, which has raised concerns that Turkey is becoming too
dependent on Russia, a major trading partner.
Such deals would have been inconceivable two decades ago, when Turkey
guarded NATO’s eastern borders during the Cold War.
However, seeking to balance its West-facing foreign policy, Turkey
— whose economy grew by an average 6 percent a year between 2003
and 2008 — has strengthened relations with Russia and other former
Soviet republics in the past years.
"We share a determination to increase the trade volume from a current
$38 billion to $100 billion in five years," President Abdullah Gul
said after hosting talks with Medvedev.
Among the accords signed was one on transporting crude oil from the
Black Sea via the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline.
Russian state pipeline monopoly Transneft said last year Russian
interests may take up to a 50 percent stake in Turkey’s $3 billion
Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline project in exchange for providing much-needed
The project, co-led by Italy’s ENI, will link the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean and advance Ankara’s plan to turn its southern port of
Ceyhan into a regional energy hub.
During his visit, Medvedev said he hoped Turkey and Armenia could
restore full relations to help stabilise the volatile South Caucasus
region. A U.S.- and Russian-backed peace initiative to end a century
of hostility between Armenia and Turkey collapsed last month.
"I hope that in the end the sides can reach all of the necessary
agreements and fully restore ties which would without doubt help to
stabilise the situation in our region," he said.
Armenia accuses the Ottoman Turks of killing millions of Armenians
in 1915, but late last year Armenia and Turkey agreed a series of
protocols to mend ties.
Last month, however, Armenia suspended ratification of the protocols
that would have resulted in an opening of its western border with
Turkey, because Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan introduced
a condition calling on Armenia to make moves to defuse the
Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, ethnic Christian Armenians,
backed by Armenian forces, in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azeri
rule and some 30,000 people were killed before a ceasefire was agreed
Turkey had sealed its border with Armenia in support of fellow Muslim
There have been fears that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could flare
again, as Azerbaijan reacted angrily to Turkey seeking to normalise
relations with Armenia.
Turkey hopes to enlist Russia’s help to break the deadlock.