Turkey’s Pact With Russia Will Give It Nuclear Plant

By SEBNEM ARSU, The New York Times

ISTANBUL — Turkey and Russia signed 17 agreements on Wednesday to enhance cooperation in energy and other fields, including pacts to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and furthering plans for an oil pipeline from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

The pipeline would allow Russia to expand its oil exports from the Black Sea, bypassing the Bosporus, whose shipping lines are already at capacity. The deal follows several rounds of agreements between Russia and Turkey in recent years that have helped Russia maintain its dominance of Eurasian energy routes.

On his first official visit to Turkey, the Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, met with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; and other top officials.

Mr. Erdogan saluted the progress on the pipeline, which is to run from the Black Sea port of Samsun to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, and said it would ease pressures on the Bosporus and reduce the threat of devastating spills.

“Our shores are under severe danger during the passage of the oil tankers through the straits,” he said. “Once we realize the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline, we would have the opportunity to reach out to the world from Ceyhan.”

For his part, Mr. Medvedev highlighted the expected increases in the $30 billion in trade between Turkey and Russia.

“Our trading capacity will not only improve but will exceed past records,” Mr. Medvedev said. “We are aiming for more than $100 billion of trade in future, which is very inspiring.” His comments, in Russian, were translated by Turkish television.

But most of that number comes from Turkish imports of Russian oil and gas, and some Turkish energy experts cautioned that the increase would do more good for Russia than for Turkey. The deal for the nuclear plant, scheduled to be built over seven years in the Mediterranean city of Mersin, raised further concerns among some Turks of relying too much on Russia.

“If we add dependency on nuclear energy on top of the current energy trading from Russia, it’s inevitable that we get concerned,” Necdet Pamir, an energy expert, told the news channel NTV.

He said Turkey had energy options it could explore without Russian aid. “Half of Turkey’s immense hydroelectric potential is on hold, so it’s misleading to present Turkey as a helpless country,” he said.

Moreover, Mr. Pamir added, the reactor suggested for the project in Turkey, known as Model 1400, has not been given safety approvals by European institutions.

To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/world/europe/13turkey.html

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