Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Turkey and Russia have agreed to extend a contract on natural gas supplies. The current agreement is scheduled to end in 2012. A proposed new pipeline, Blue Stream 2 is expected to meet Turkey’s growing need for natural gas
The prime ministers of Turkey and Russia agreed over the weekend to strengthen the countries’ energy cooperation and begin negotiations over the Blue Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline project.
The announcement came Saturday at a televised joint press conference held by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The two first held a one-on-one meeting, which will be followed by talks between their delegations, attended by Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yılmaz and Aleksei Miller, the CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom.
The Blue Stream pipeline currently runs from Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea; the proposed new pipeline, known as Blue Stream 2, is expected to expand its output capacity by 10 billion cubic meters annually. Plans call for it to enable gas deliveries to countries in the Middle East, Israel and other nations.
Without elaborating, Putin said Turkey and Russia had agreed to extend a contract on natural gas supplies. The current agreement to supply Turkey with about 6 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually is scheduled to end in 2012; the proposed pipeline is expected to meet Turkey’s growing need for natural gas.
During the Erdoğan-Putin meeting, Russian delivery of electricity to Turkey, as well as the latest developments in Turkish plans to construct nuclear power plants, were among the topics discussed. Putin said Russian companies were ready to help build four nuclear power plants in Turkey.
Regional issues, including Nagorno-Karabakh discussed
The leaders also held talks concerning regional disputes, including the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Putin said the two parties involved, Armenia and Azerbaijan, must be the ones to reach a compromise, and that other countries could only act as mediators or guarantors of any agreement that might be made. Erdoğan was expected to update the Russian leader about the rapprochement process between Turkey and Armenia, reported daily Milliyet.
Before departing for Russia, Erdoğan spoke to reporters at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport and said Turkey cannot remain silent on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. His remarks came in response to those made by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who said if Turkey wants to help find a peaceful solution to the problem, it should not interfere in the agreement process.
"As a country in the region, it is out of the question for Turkey to remain silent on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," Erdoğan said. "The closing of the border [with Armenia] is related to Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus, we cannot open the border unless the problem is resolved."
Meanwhile, Bernard Fassier, the French co-chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, will hold talks today in Ankara, one of his stops after a regional tour to Armenia and Azerbaijan. He is expected to meet with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ertuğrul Apakan, reported the Anatolia news agency.