Turkey seeks to settle row with Russia over nuclear plant construction-Xinhua


Photo taken on Aug. 18, 2022 shows the Akkuyu nuclear power plant constructed by Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in south Türkiye’s Mersin province. (Xinhua)

by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — Türkiye is seeking to resolve a dispute with Russia regarding the construction of Türkiye’s first nuclear power plant, a key component of growing bilateral energy cooperation.

The Akkuyu plant constructed by Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in south Türkiye’s Mersin province has set an operational date for the first reactor by 2023, with the entire plant expected to be up and running by 2025.

For Mithat Rende, a former Turkish ambassador and an analyst on energy affairs, the Akkuyu plant, which began with a 2010 intergovernmental agreement between Turkey and Russia, is of “strategic” importance.

“The Akkuyu power plant is of critical importance for Türkiye because it has to work towards enhancing its energy security of supplies,” Rende, also a member of the Turkish delegation that negotiated the nuclear plant deal with Russia, told Xinhua.

“We need to build and operate the Akkuyu power plant as soon as possible … the first reactor was due to be operational in 2018 but there were too many delays,” Rende said, noting that new delays could happen given Türkiye’s economic and financial woes as well as the recent Western sanctions imposed on Russia due to the Russia-UKraine conflict.

Last week, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said his government was seeking to resolve a legal dispute between Rosatom and local contractors.

“Problems have not been overcome, and our initiatives continue. We will not allow any disruption in the project calendar,” he told the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Once, the plant is expected to complete production up to 10 percent of electricity in Türkiye.

The row was also on the agenda of Russian and Turkish leaders during a meeting in Russia’s Sochi earlier this month.

Following discussions, an agreement was reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on expanding cooperation in the economic and energy sectors.

The Turkish leader stressed the importance of the nuclear project and ruled out any postponement. He denied rumors that the project has been delayed.

Erdogan visited the construction site following his return from Sochi.

A Turkish source close to the government, which has knowledge of the matter, told Xinhua that the construction process is still “on track.”

This source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the Ankara government was “confident” that the recent Russian-Turkish summit gave “clear signs” that bilateral nuclear cooperation was still moving forward.

The fact that both countries are in close contact over energy issues and the current dispute reflects the sound basis of their partnership, said Ilyas Kemaloglu, a scholar from Istanbul’s Marmara University.

“The sincere dialogue established between Recep Erdogan and Vladimir Putin and the need of the two countries for each other is to the benefit of both nations,” he said.

“In today’s conditions, as a door opening to the world for Russia, Türkiye is increasing its prestige and weight in the international arena as it is the only country in communication with both Russia and the West,” the scholar added.

Photo taken on Aug. 18, 2022 shows the Akkuyu nuclear power plant constructed by Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in south Türkiye’s Mersin province. (Xinhua)

Photo taken on Aug. 18, 2022 shows the Akkuyu nuclear power plant constructed by Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in south Türkiye’s Mersin province. (Xinhua)

Photo taken on Aug. 18, 2022 shows the Akkuyu nuclear power plant constructed by Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in south Türkiye’s Mersin province. (Xinhua)

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