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President Erdogan, Putin break ground for nuclear power plant

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant via a video conference call from the Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara.

Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony, Erdogan welcomed Vladimir Putin with an official ceremony in the capital.

“We are witnessing a historic moment in terms of the development of our country and the cooperation with Russia on energy,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey is determined to boost cooperation with Russia on regional issues.

Erdogan said that Turkish energy sector — which is still predominantly based on petroleum, natural gas and coal– would be healthier along with the Akkuyu NPP.

The Akkuyu plant, comprising four reactors, each with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts, will be built by the Russian State Nuclear Energy Agency, Rosatom.

It will produce 35 billion kilowatts of electricity at full capacity, which will meet about 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity needs.

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On Turkey-Russia bilateral issues, the Turkish president said both countries have come a long way in bilateral relations, especially in the last 15 years. “The High-Level Cooperation Council, of which we will hold its seventh meeting today [Tuesday], is a symbol of the level of our relations.”

Strategic projects

He also mentioned other strategic projects between Turkey and Russia, including the purchase of Russian S-400 Air Defense Systems and Turkish Stream Natural Gas Pipeline project.

Moscow and Ankara are in close cooperation to eliminate terror in Syria as well as to end the 7 year-long conflict in the war-torn country in a short period of time, Erdogan added.

A tripartite summit on Syria will be held on Wednesday in Ankara with the participation of the Turkish, Russian and Iranian presidents.

For his part, Putin said Russia was a leading country in the nuclear energy sector.

The power plant “will be safe and environment-friendly,” he said and added that the first reactor will be operational in 2023.

“This innovative project is highly valuable and important. Today, we are not only commencing building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant but we are also establishing Turkey’s nuclear business sector,” Putin said.

“This is completely a new step, a new step towards the development of Turkey’s economy,” the Russian president said.

Potential in science and technology

He pointed out that the nuclear power plant would enhance Turkey’s potential in science and technology and provide Turkish consumers with clean and low-cost electricity.

Putin asserted that Russian partners would encourage Turkey’s small- and medium-scale companies to participate in this project.

Recalling that more than 200 Turkish students were studying in the nuclear energy field in Russian universities, Putin said the graduates were offered employment in the Akkuyu plant.

He highlighted that Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant would be a symbol of the Turkish-Russian friendship.

Following speeches delivered by the two leaders, Turkish Development Minister Lutfi Elvan pressed the button to lay the foundation of the Akkuyu NPP in Turkey’s southern Mersin province and implemented the agreement signed between Turkish and Russian governments back in 2010.

The Akkuyu NPP project started with an intergovernmental agreement signed between Turkey and Russia on May 12, 2010.

At present, there are 450 nuclear power plants in 31 countries, while 55 plants are under construction around the world. The number of power plants under construction will be 56 with the Akkuyu NPP.

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