Turkey and Russia Monday (Oct 10) signed the Turkish Stream gas pipeline agreement.
The signing of the strategic deal came after a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin who was in Istanbul to attend the 23rd World Energy Congress which gathered 10,000 participants, including four presidents, 250 energy ministers, academia, policy makers and CEOs of top energy companies.
This was Putin's first trip to Turkey since a bilateral crisis sparked by Turkey's shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria last November. Putin and Erdoğan have met on two occasions - since a
Turkish June initiative to normalize ties after the plane crisis - in Putin's home city of Saint Petersburg and then on the sidelines of the G-20 in China.
In a bid to normalize relations with Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in June expressed regret for the downing of a Russian warplane. "I would like to send my condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who lost his life and express one more time that I share their pain; may they excuse us," Erdogan said in a statement. "I believe that we will leave behind this current situation, which is to the detriment of both countries, and rapidly normalize our relations," Erdogan added in a speech later on in the day.
Russia's Gazprom and Turkey's BOTAŞ in 2014 signed a
memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of the Turkish Stream
gas pipeline, with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year
from Russia to Turkey across the Black Sea.
However, talks on the project were halted last year after Turkey shot down a Russian air force jet and Moscow retaliated with trade sanctions but since then the two countries have made significant progress to mend relations.
Putin said Monday the need to develop the Turkish Stream natural gas project had been stressed in his talks with Erdoğan, adding that Russia also actively planned to expand it hydrocarbon exports eastward to China, Japan and India. "Russia will further interact in energy with all interested parties for mutual beneficial partnerships on an equal footing," he added.
"Gas cooperation between Russia and Turkey could be scary for the European Union," said Akin Unver, assistant professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul and an expert in regional energy.
"The EU wants to diversify suppliers and link eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe in the long run ... if Russia bypasses all that with TurkStream that would not help.
EU officials fear that TurkStream will be expanded to bypass Ukraine as a transit route for supplies to Europe, increasing dependence on Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom and shutting in alternative supplies from the Caspian region.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has said Turkey will "play a large role as a transit country" to supply Europe - the very prospect which worries EU officials. Brussels is instead promoting a chain of pipelines known as the Southern Gas Corridor to transport gas from the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan to European markets by 2020.
Akkuyu nuclear plant.
Turkey and Russia have also reached consensus on the acceleration of the process for the Akkuyu nuclear plant.
Erdoğan said on Monday that Turkey is seeking ways to implement plans for a third nuclear power plant and aims to produce 10 percent of its electricity from nuclear power in the coming years.
Russia is currently developing Turkey's first
nuclear plant by the Mediterranean.