Tensions with France hurt economic ties

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Turkey's energy minister conceded that political tensions with France were taking a toll on economic ties

   ANKARA, February 19, 2008 - Turkey's energy minister conceded Tuesday that
political tensions with France were taking a toll on economic ties after
Ankara objected to French participation in a major international pipeline
project, Anatolia news agency reported.
   "Decisions in major projects and tenders should be made on the basis not
only of technical and commercial considerations, but also political ones,"
Energy Minister Hulmi Guler said after talks with French junior trade minister
Herve Novelli, Anatolia reported.
   "This is how it happens all over the world and Turkey is not an exception,"
he said.
   Novelli Monday blamed Turkish political interference for Gaz de France's
(GDF) failure to become a partner in the European Union's Nabucco pipeline
   Source close to the project have said that Turkey vetoed GDF's
participation in retaliation for the French parliament's recognition as
genocide of the World War I massacres of Armenians under the former Ottoman
Empire, preceding modern-day Turkey.
   French objections to Turkey's bid to join the EU have further poisoned
bilateral ties.
   The Nabucco pipeline is a five-billion-euro (7.4-billion-dollar) venture to
feed 31 billion cubic metres of gas each year from the Caspian Sea to Europe
from 2012 at the earliest.
   German power giant RWE was named earlier this month as the sixth partner in
the project, at the expense of GDF. The other partners are OMV of Austria, MOL
of Hungary, Transgaz of Romania, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria and Botas of Turkey.
   Novelli said he and Guler discussed Turkey's energy projects, primarily
plans to build the country's first nuclear power plant, asserting France's
desire to participate in them.
   "We must not remain stuck to ups and downs in this or that field. We must
look to the future," Anatolia quoted Novelli as saying.
   French nuclear giant Areva has already said it is interested in a tender
for the construction of the nuclear power plant, expected to be announced soon.


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