ANKARA – The presidents of Turkey and Russia joined each other in Ankara on Tuesday for a symbolic ceremony celebrating the construction of a first-ever nuclear power plant on Turkish soil.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was visited by Vladimir Putin at the presidential palace in the capital for a symbolic ground-breaking event linked to the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant currently under construction by Russia in Turkey’s Mediterranean coast and scheduled to be commissioned in 2023.
“We are witnessing a historic moment in the development of our country and cooperation with Russia on energy,” Erdogan told reporters, adding that it was an important step in diversifying the country’s electricity supply, which is largely based on coal, petroleum and natural gas.
Erdogan said the plant would provide 10 percent of the country’s energy supply and was due to be operated by the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
The leaders were also expected to address Turkish Stream, a pipeline under-construction that is set to transport Russian natural gas to the European Union via Turkey.
The Turkish government delegation was also to table a bid to purchase an anti-aircraft and anti-missile system from Russia, a plan that has been criticized by NATO – of which Turkey is a member – due to the equipment’s lack of interoperability with the kind used by the Alliance.
Political observers are to pay close attention Wednesday to a scheduled meeting between Erdogan, Putin, and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani as it makes for a highly-anticipated encounter that should set out the next steps taken in the Syrian Civil War.
The three regional superpowers are all major international players in the Syrian Civil War.
Russia and Iran back the Syrian regime while Turkey backs the rebels.