Turkey is turning into an energy Russian energy hub in Southeastern Europe – It plans to create a natural gas distribution hub next to Greece
Putin’s gift to Erdogan the discount in the price of gas
Major dispute on the future of Assad
By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara
Vladimir Putin visited Ankara accompanied by 10 ministers, showing the importance his country places to the relations with Turkey. Bilateral trade amounted to USD 32.7 billion.
The Russian President on his one-day official visit to Turkey met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and for 1.5 hours the two leaders discussed economic and energy issues, but also issues concerning Syria.
After the meeting between the two leaders convened the Turkey-Russia Supreme Council of Cooperation in the new presidential palace «Ak Saray», with ministers from both countries.
Discount on the price of the natural gas the Present of Putin to Erdogan
Turkey is the second largest importer of Russian gas after Germany and Erdogan asked for a big discount in price to benefit the Turkish economy. In 2015 Turkey wants to purchase 30 billion cubic meters of gas.
Putin, gave the gift Erdogan wanted, announcing a 6% discount on the price of gas and said he would “continue talks on a future price”.
Moscow is constructing an energy hub to the Turkish-Greek border
At the same time, Russia and Turkey agreed to create a new node and gas distribution network in eastern Thrace. “This center will be close to the borders with Greece and will distribute gas in the region as needed”, said Erdogan.
In exchange to Putin’s offer, Turkey seems to offer the immediate construction of the first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu from the russian Rosatom, a project with a budget of USD 25 billion. At the time of the arrival of Putin to Turkey Turkey’s Environment Ministry announced the approval of the draft of the environmental study for Akkuyu, which was the last step to set up the sites for its construction.
Construction of South Stream is void
Putin announced that the project of the gas pipeline South Stream is canceled and stressed that “the European Commission placed obstacles and Bulgaria did not give its approval for the pipeline”. The South Stream was the undersea pipeline Moscow planned to construct to the Black Sea to circumvent Ukraine. The pipeline would end up in Bulgaria and from there it would have ended up in Europe.
Moscow wants to increase imports of fruits, vegetables and poultry from Turkey as it has shortcomings due to the embargo applied by the EU countries, with Ankara agreeing to increase its exports to Russia.
The dispute on Assad remains
A big difference between the two leaders was presented on the issue of Syria. Erdogan supports the rebels fighting the country’s president Bashar al-Assad and Putin wants to maintain the status. The two sides agreed on the need to oppose the Islamic State, but their disagreement on the future of Syria is still evident.
“We have no disagreement regarding the fight against terrorism, but in Turkey we are hosting 1.6 million refugees… it is wrong thinking about what will happen if Assad leaves. We must not to take him into account”, said Erdogan.
“The people of Syria should decide on its future. Elections were held and Assad has the great support of the people. We are trying to find a solution to the civil war”, said the Russian president with Erdogan responding that “all dictators in the world receive rates of 80-90%”.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey has raised the issue of the rights of the Crimean Tatars, with Moscow promising that their language will be among the official languages of the region.
Political observers say in Turkey there is impressive mobility at political level, since just within a week have visited Ankara, US Vice President Joe Biden, Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin.