Turkey sees political strings to France nuclear plant deal

24th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Possible talks with France over the construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey will include political considerations, Turkey's energy minister said Monday.

French companies have expressed interest in the project but relations between Paris and Ankara have been soured by strong French opposition to Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

"If we come to have talks with France (on a nuclear power plant) we cannot behave as if nothing has happened... A new design would definitely take shape," Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters.

Asked whether Turkey would expect gestures on its EU bid, he said: "It is our right to expect them."

Turkey is currently in talks with Japan to build a nuclear power plant at Sinop, on the country's Black Sea coast.

Taner said earlier this month that French energy companies Areva, EDF and GDF Suez had submitted certain proposals for the project, but stressed that Japan had the priority.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a vocal opponent of Turkey's EU accession, is reportedly planning to visit Turkey on February 25.

Turkish-French ties have been strained also by the French parliament's recognition of Ottoman massacres of Armenians during World War I as "genocide."

Last month, Turkey and Japan signed a memorandum on civil nuclear cooperation, a step toward a possible 20-billion-dollar deal for Japanese companies to build a nuclear plant at Sinop.

The non-binding deal was agreed after similar negotiations with South Korea hit snags on some key terms, including the price of the electricity the plant would produce.

Overriding opposition from environmentalists, Turkey signed a deal worth 20 billion dollars with Russia in May to build the country's first nuclear power plant, at Akkuyu on the southern Mediterranean coast.

Ankara's objective is to have nuclear plants up and running in at least two regions in 2023 to meet its growing energy demand.

© 2011 AFP

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