Turkey’s Erdogan Pays Visit To Tatarstan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has paid a visit to Russia’s autonomous republic of Tatarstan.

Turkish reports say Erdogan held talks with Tatar President Rustam Minnikhanov, who later hosted a banquet for the Turkish prime minister. There were few other details.

Turkey and Tatarstan have strong cultural and historical ties, and bilateral trade has been rising, amounting to some $1.37 billion, according to ITAR-TASS. A lot of that trade is in the car industry.

Erdogan arrived in Kazan, the Tatar capital, from Moscow, where he held talks mainly on energy issues with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to have Russia’s Rosatom build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant despite fresh concerns over nuclear energy due to Japan’s nuclear crisis.

Erdogan told Putin he hoped construction on the plant at the coastal city of Mersin — some 25 kilometers from an active fault line — could begin in late April or early May.

The two sides also discussed Russian gas deliveries to Turkey, which imports 64 percent of its gas from Russia.

Erdogan said Turkey wants to pay less for the gas because of sagging demand due to the recent global recession.

Medvedev said Gazprom would rather stick to the terms of its contracts, but he told his Turkish partners “in certain cases, we are willing to consider other approaches.”

Separately, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said that no agreement has been reached with Turkey on the proposed South Stream gas pipeline that would cross its Black Sea territorial waters.

Turkey is a major player in the rival $10.8 billion Nabucco project, backed by the European Union, to pipe gas from Caspian energy producers such as Azerbaijan to Europe.

compiled from agency reports

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