Putin, Erdogan speak by phone before inauguration of Turkish nuclear plant

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan meet on the sidelines of the 6th summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), in Astana, Kazakhstan October 13, 2022. Sputnik/Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Pool via Reuters

By Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan held talks by telephone on Thursday, their offices said, before the two countries marked the inauguration of Turkey’s first nuclear power reactor.

The Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey’s southern Mersin province has been built by Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom.

Erdogan thanked Putin during their call for his help on the power plant, the Turkish leader’s office said. They also discussed the Black Sea grain initiative and the situation in Ukraine, it said.

Putin said they agreed to deepen economic, trade and agricultural cooperation.

Both presidents took part virtually in a ceremony marking the loading of nuclear fuel into the first power unit at Akkuyu.

The $20 billion, 4,800 megawatt (MW) project to build four reactors in the Mediterranean town of Akkuyu will allow Turkey to join the small club of nations with civil nuclear energy.

“We plan to complete the physical launch (of the plant) next year… in order to be able to produce electricity on a steady basis from 2025, as we agreed,” said Andrei Likhachev, head of Rosatom.

Turkey hopes the plant, described by Likhachev currently as the “largest nuclear construction site on the planet”, will reduce its dependence on imported hydrocarbons for energy.

Erdogan joined Thursday’s ceremony by videolink rather than travelling to the site due to a health issue that forced him to cancel campaign rallies this week. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the president was now feeling better.

Turkey faces landmark presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14.