ISTANBUL: Russia and Turkey on Monday signed an agreement to build a gas pipeline under the Black Sea, as President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to intensify relations after a bitter crisis.
Making his first visit to Turkey since the shooting down of a Russian war plane by Turkey led to the worst dispute between Ankara and Moscow since the Cold War, Putin said the two countries could now return to cooperation in all areas.
Only a few months ago, the two post-imperial strongmen were exchanging bitterly personal accusations. But this was already the pair’s third meeting after a June agreement to normalise ties.
“I have full confidence that the normalisation process between Turkey and Russia will swiftly continue,” said Erdogan.
Showing that any personal animosity was over, Putin thanked Erdogan for the “attention Mr President has devoted to the development of Turkish-Russian relations”.
The centrepiece of the one-day visit was the signing of an agreement on realising the construction of the planned TurkStream gas pipeline to pump Russian gas through two lines under Turkish waters in the Black Sea towards Europe.
The chief executive of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, said in a statement that the inter-governmental agreement had created the “legal basis” for the project after a previous memorandum of understanding from 2014.
He added that the annual capacity of each line is to be 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas (bcma), making a total capacity of over 30 bcma.
He added the first line of the gas pipeline will be used to transport gas to Turkish consumers and the second to Europe. They should both be built by 2019, he said.