Russia does not foresee any risks to the future of the Turkish Stream project, which will be constructed in accordance to the determined timetable as long as the two parties are interested, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Saturday, announcing that 170 kilometers of pipes have already been laid under the Black Sea.
At the 86th İzmir International Fair, which Russia is attending as a partner country, and the Turkey-Russia Business Forum, Novak said that the U.S. issued new sanctions against Russia to take advantage of the European natural gas market. For that reason, Novak said, they do not foresee any risk to the future of the Turkish Stream project, stressing that construction will continue according to the agreed upon timetable. Pointing out that Europe is very interested in natural gas projects, such as the Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2, Novak said these projects would increase Europe's energy supply security and supply diversity.
The Russian energy minister also noted that work continues on the Akkuyu nuclear power plant to get the latest licenses, underlining that they hope to get all necessary permits by the end of this year. "So, we will begin construction in early 2018. After completing construction of the first unit, we aim to commission the power plant in 2023 on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey," he said. Novak pointed out that they want to further improve bilateral trade following the jet-downing crisis between Turkey and Russia, indicating that even in the first half of this year, trade volume between the two countries increased by 30 percent compared to the previous year.
Recalling that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin aim to raise trade volume between the two countries to $100 billion, Novak said they want to expand not only in the energy sector but also in high-tech products, agriculture, transport and many other areas. Novak said talks between the parties on import restrictions imposed on Turkish tomatoes by Russia are in progress. "We are preparing an action plan in this regard and evaluating tomato imports from Turkey by taking seasonal developments into account, as well," Novak noted, stressing that they will prepare their relevant proposal in the near future.
Meanwhile, Russia-Turkey Business Council President Ahmet Palankoyev said that the use of rubles and Turkish lira in bilateral trade has been supported by the governments but that they have not yet reached the sufficient volume, suggesting that there should be some encouraging mechanisms in this regard. Turkey-Russia Business Council President Tuncay Özilhan, on the other hand, indicated that tension between the two countries had been left behind.