Gas pipelines & nuclear plants: Turkish PM visits Kremlin to consolidate bilateral ties

Gas pipelines and nuclear power stations were among the highlights of recent talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish PM Binali Yildirim. The two countries are mending their relationship in the aftermath of a Russian bomber being downed in 2015.

Turkish Prime Minister met Putin late on Tuesday in the Kremlin after holding talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev earlier in the day. The officials discussed various aspects of cooperation between the two countries and held a joint press conference afterwards.

Russia and Turkey are looking forward to further mending their relationship, which took a major hit after Turkey downed a Russian bomber jet near the Syrian border last year. The official visit became Yildirim’s first to Russia since he entered office in May, and one of his first international visits in general.

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“I am pleased to note that we are restoring our relations practically in all areas of our cooperation. However, due to certain circumstances – let us not mention them now – our trade has substantially dropped. I would like to hope that during your visit we will be able to make concerted efforts to overcome this negative trend,” Putin told Yildirim.

The ongoing visit is expected to lay the foundation for a forthcoming meeting between the presidents of the two countries.

“I am sure that this year, which did not go well for any of us, is over. We all know the areas in which we will pursue greater cooperation. Primarily, this is the energy sector,” Yildirim told Putin.

Various joint Russia-Turkey projects, mainly energy-related, have been taking shape lately, namely the ‘Turkish Stream’ gas pipeline and Akkuyu nuclear power plant.

“In the nuclear power industry, we continue working on the Akkuyu project on a mutually beneficial basis. We discussed all the obstacles [standing] in the way of this project … at any rate, we want to launch the first stage of this nuclear power plant before 2023,” Yildirim said.

The Turkish parliament almost unanimously ratified the ‘Turkish Stream’ pipeline agreement last week. On Russia's part, the document will be submitted to the State Duma in the “near term.”

Presidents Putin and Erdogan signed the intergovernmental agreement to build the pipeline back in October.

The project, which entails an estimated total cost of €11.4 billion ($12.7 billion), was announced in December 2014, during Putin’s visit to Turkey as an alternative to the canceled South Stream route through Bulgaria. The construction of Turkish Stream is set to begin in 2017 and is expected to be completed by late 2019.