Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on October 10 to discuss normalisation of their relations and accelerating the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline.

Putin and Erdogan plan to meet in the context of the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul on October 9-13.

Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak has reportedly said the congress is very important for Turkey and Russia, especially with regards to Turkish Stream that will carry Russian gas to Turkey and Europe.

Constantinos Filis, director of research at Institute of International Relations, told New Europe that Russian-Turkish relations are in the process of normalisation, but skepticism remains.

Energy cooperation is at the core of the partnership between Ankara and Moscow, some positive developments on nuclear and natural gas cooperation can be expected, Filis said.

“In a sense the Akkuyu nuclear power plant is connected with Turkish Stream,” Filis said.

Erdogan and Putin talked on the phone on October 5, reaffirming their desire to restore bilateral economic ties as well as implementing Turkish Stream and the Akkuyu NPP projects.

Turkish Stream in its first phase will be destined to Turkey’s market and in its second phase might replace in much lower quantities though South Stream, as the southern bypass project of Ukrainian thaw, Filis told New Europe.

“But given the acceleration of efforts to develop Nord Stream II and the possibility – not very likely for now – Russia and the EU reaching an agreement over Ukraine, plus the high construction cost and the unwillingness of Brussels to support it, despite a slight change towards a more positive stance, the European dimension of Turkish Stream is still under question, without entailing that it stands no chance to be materialised,” Filis said.

“As for the Turkish branch, the agreement can only be undermined either by a deterioration of bilateral relations, i.e. over Syria, which for the time being they both want to avoid or if Ankara wants to gain time and instead of preserving its dependence on Russian natural gas, which is around 55% of total consumption, chooses to diversify its mix by securing quantities from its southern neighbours – Israel and/or Cyprus,” Filis said. “But the barriers to this path might prove insurmountable if Cyprus issue is not properly solved,” he added.

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