TurkStream natural gas pipeline project is one of the most important and strategic projects between Turkey and Russia, which will be the basis of long-term cooperation between Russia and Turkey, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Sunday.
"Turkey becomes a natural gas bridge for the Southeastern Europe with the TurkStream project," Novak told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
TurkStream consists two lines from Russia to Turkey, with a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters.
The first line will carry 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey and the second line will transfer the gas to Europe via Turkey.
"We evaluate several routes for [the second line of] the project such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary as well as Greece and Italy," he said.
Such projects will be the basis of long-term economic cooperation between the two countries, he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host Russian President Vladimir Putin in Istanbul on Monday for the completion ceremony of the sea section works of the TurkSteam natural gas project.
The two countries cooperate on new energy projects including TurkStream natural gas pipeline and Akkuyu nuclear power plant, Turkey's first nuclear energy project.
Ankara and Moscow also try to bring a peaceful end to years-long Syrian conflict, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in a brutal civil war and pushed millions of refugees to neighboring countries as well as to Europe.
The newfound partnership on different areas including security between Russia and Turkey facilitates the groundwork for closer trade ties such as TurkStream natural gas pipeline project.
- Akkuyu nuclear power plant
"The [Akkuyu nuclear power plant ] project is currently fully funded by Russia. However, we want to attract Turkish investor to the project," he said.
"The participation of Turkish companies in the project will diversify mutual investments while improving the relations between our countries. At the same time, our Turkish partners will have experience in the implementation of such projects," he said.
Russian State Nuclear Energy Agency Rosatom and participants will build Akkuyu plant comprising four units, each of which has a capacity of 1,200 megawatts.
The plant will have a working life of 8,000 hours per year, and will produce 35 billion kilowatts of electricity at full capacity, which will meet about 10 percent of Turkey's electricity needs.
The plant has an operational date for the first reactor set for 2023, while the plant is expected to be up and running at full capacity by 2025.
- Growing trade volume between two countries
The trade volume between Turkey and Russia increased lately, the Russian minister expressed.
"One of the main goals of our economic institutions is to increase our trade and mutual investments. This year trade volume between the two countries increased by 26 percent," he explained.
"It's not just the exports from Russia to Turkey, also Turkey's exports to Russia increased. Our exports to Turkey increased by 24 percent compared to the same period last year and our imports from Turkey increased by 36.6 percent compared to last year," Novak said.
Novak also pointed out that the cooperation between the two countries in the field of agriculture has increased significantly.
The Minister said that using national currency in trade between the two countries is very important and added, "This is also one of the main agenda items of our leaders."
"In our bilateral trade, we were assigned to increase the use of Turkish Lira and Russian Ruble. We are developing our financial systems to reduce the risks that may arise due to international restrictions," he said.
"While the use of national currency for Russia's exports to Turkey amounted to 12 percent, this rate reached 40 percent in Turkey's exports to Russia. Meanwhile, transactions on the Moscow Stock Exchange with Turkish national currency Lira began. Our central banks and ministries will take necessary steps in this regard and we will continue these efforts," Minister Novak said.- "The U.S. conducts repressive policies on natural gas"
Novak also commented on U.S.' "repressive policies" of natural gas towards Europe, especially Germany and said that this approach is against the free market rules.
The U.S. continue to use political instruments for pressuring countries but consumer countries should reach a final decision on their own for their natural gas needs, he said.
"The European market is a market with a diversity of suppliers. We think that the delivery of gas by pipelines is more reliable. We also saw in recent years that Russia is the only source of extra supply in extremely cold seasons," Novak said.
On U.S. sanctions against Iran, Novak said: "We will not cut off cooperation with Iran. We don't recognize the sanctions imposed without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. We will continue to use mechanisms to continue our cooperation, including trade with national currencies. One of the easiest solutions is to use national currencies in trade."
Reporting by E. Gurkan Abay in Moscow
Writing by Murat Temizer