Putin in turkey to Boost Energy Ties

Putin in turkey to Boost Energy TiesPutin in turkey to Boost Energy Ties

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday held talks in Ankara with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to tighten links which have survived potentially grave disputes over the Syria and Ukraine crises.

The talks were expected to focus on energy cooperation -- with Ankara seeking not only a reduction in gas prices from Russia but also greater import volumes ahead of the winter -- as well key diplomatic issues, AFP reported.

It is the first time the pair have met face-to-face since Erdogan moved from the post of prime minister to president in August, the same job change that Putin himself made in 2012.

Russia and Turkey appear so far to have successfully shielded their strong relations from potentially damaging disputes over the crises in Syria and Ukraine.

Despite their differences, more than four million Russian tourists visit Turkey annually and Russia is building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in a $20 billion project.

“Turkey-Russia relations remain stable, maintaining continuity and not depending on the current situation,” Putin said in an interview with Turkey’s Anatolia news agency ahead of his visit.

He acknowledged: “Naturally our positions on some issues may not be exactly the same or even differ. This is natural for states carrying out an independent foreign policy.”

Turkey -- the second largest European importer of Russian gas after Germany -- wants cheaper but more gas from Russia especially in the current winter season.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz noted on a visit to Moscow last week that in some Turkish regions 22 times more gas is needed in winter than in summer.

Gazprom had promised to increase deliveries this year to Turkey to 30 billion cubic metres of gas, up from 26.7 billion last year. However to the alarm of Ankara, the projected figure has now fallen due to the crisis in Ukraine, a key transit country.

In a sign of the seriousness of the issue, Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller on Saturday held unannounced talks in Istanbul with Yildiz and Erdogan, the Russian company said in a statement.