ERDOGAN, PUTIN MARK START OF WORK ON TURKEY’S FIRST NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
The construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power station, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, was launched on April 3 in a ground breaking ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. In his first trip abroad since re-election last month, Putin arrived in Ankara to take part in the ceremony and a summit on Syria the following day. He met Erdogan eight times in 2017 as relations between their countries improved amid cooperation on energy and Syria, and as Ankara faced headwinds in its relations with the West.
During a ceremony held in the Presidential Palace Complex, Erdogan said that Turkey implements various strategic projects with Russia, with the S-400 missile defense system, the TurkStream gas pipeline and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant only some of these. “When all four units are activated, Akkuyu
NPP alone will able to provide 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity needs, bringing our energy portfolio to a healthier level, which is currently largely dependent on oil, gas and coal,” Erdogan said.
Putin stated that successful implementation of the Akkuyu Power Plant project will be a symbol of the dynamic development of the Turkish-Russian partnership and of the two countries’ friendship.
“The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is a new step to further develop the Turkish economy,” Putin said, adding that more than 350 Turkish companies are ready to participate in the project. Turkish Energy Minister, Berat Albayrak, said that in addition to efficient energy, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is a milestone for Turkey in terms of growing know-how in energy and technology.
Russia is the top provider of natural gas to Turkey. According to government agency TurkStat, Turkey spent $37.2 billion on energy imports last year, a 37 percent increase compared with 2016. Both presidents watched the laying of concrete at the
$20 billion power plant in southern Turkey via video conference. The plant is expected to go online in 2023.
The Akkuyu deal is part of wider energy projects with Russia, including the TurkStream pipeline, estimated to be worth more than $12 billion, which will deliver Russian gas to both Turkey and southern Europe. Russia’s Rosatom holds a 51-percent stake in Akkuyu and is seeking to sell the other 49 percent. Prospective Turkish companies pulled out of the project in February.