World Bulletin/News Desk
Ankara is expecting to see Paris weigh its stance on Armenian genocide claims rather more carefully amid improving trade ties, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told reporters Monday in Ankara.
France's GDF Suez will partner with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and Itochu Corporation to build Turkey's second nuclear power plant at an estimated cost of $22 billion under an agreement signed last week. The consortium will use French nuclear group Areva's Atmea reactors.
Yıldız's remarks on Monday come on the heels of speculation in French and Turkish media that the nuclear deal will benefit the political relations between Paris and Ankara, which have been strained by the former's recognition of killings of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide.
Ankara last year rejected requests by two French firms to be involved in Turkish nuclear power projects amid Turkish anger at a French bill making it illegal to deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago was genocide.
Observers argued the French stance on the issue would continue to test Turkey's patience as the 100th anniversary of 1915 events approaches. It is known that the Armenian diaspora is pushing for a worldwide initiative in 2015.
Recalling that the French government is aware of the need to break the ice in ties with Turkey, Yıldız said he expected the latest energy deal to serve this end. “We unfortunately failed to bring about a rapprochement during the [former President Nicolas] Sarkozy term. …last week's deal is a positive step to see this happen,” Yıldız remarked. The minister said although it is too early to expect concrete steps from France in this regard, he believed energy matters in political relations today more than ever before.
Apart from the genocide claims, Turkey also hopes to see France soften its stance on the Ankara's bid to join the EU. Yıldız had earlier said Turkey would expect gestures from Paris on its EU bid.
Prior to the nuclear deal, the French government agreed in February to the opening of talks on one of the five negotiating chapters that it has been blocking since former President Sarkozy's term in office.
Turkey to decide IPOs for nuke plant by October
Ankara is weighing a possible move to make public certain shares in a company that is going to be established as part of a project to build Turkey's second nuclear power plant, Minister Yıldız said Monday in Ankara.
In line with the deal signed between Turkey and Japan, the parties will establish a separate company to undertake the construction and operation of the nuclear plant in Sinop province. A 51 percent share in this company will belong to Japan, with the rest in Turkey's hands. Yıldız said the government mulled two alternative plans: “One is we give the entire 49 percent to the Electricity Generation Company [EÜAŞ], and the second plan is to keep EÜAŞ's share at around 30 percent and either give the rest to local private firms or trade them on the stock exchange.” Yıldız said his ministry consulted with the Treasury for a possible IPO and will reach a final decision after deliberations with the participation of the Prime Minister's Office.
An Energy Ministry official told Today's Zaman on Monday that the government would make clear the initial public offering (IPO) issue in the planned nuclear company by October. “We will ink the final contracts on the nuclear plant in October, and this is when the government should decide on the IPO,” he said.
In an earlier deal, Russia's Rosatom will start construction of Turkey's first nuclear power station in mid-2015 in Mersin's Akkuyu district.
Turkey guarantees the procurement of electric power from the two nuclear plants during the 20 years following their completion. Ankara will pay $12.35 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to Russia and $11.8 to Japan.Last Mod: 07 Mayıs 2013, 10:35