Ankara and Paris revive nuclear talks

Ankara and Paris revive nuclear talks

Ankara and Paris revive nuclear talks

Energy Minister Yıldız (L) meets with French Minister Bricq in Istanbul. AA photo

With Turkey-France ties recovering since the coming of President François Hollande to the Elysée Palace last summer, Europe’s largest nuclear power developer has emerged as the latest bidder for Turkey’s second planned nuclear power plant.

“With its unique experience and knowledge in nuclear energy, France is ready to serve Turkey in construction and management of the nuclear plant in Sinop,” said French Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Bricq in a written response to questions from Hürriyet Daily News columnist Gila Benmayor, before her visit to Turkey yesterday. “This is what I will discuss with the [Turkish] energy minister.”

Japan, South Korea, China and Canada are the short-listed contenders for a second plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop. With Bricq’s statements, which she also confirmed to news agencies, France has also stepped into the ring.

 Bricq underlined the energy sector as one of the most important constituents of French-Turkish economic cooperation, mentioning the French energy companies conducting business in Turkey and voicing optimism over potential future cooperation over nuclear energy and energy efficiency. French energy companies also want to construct thermal power plants in Turkey, she told Benmayor.
The renewed French interest in Turkey is not limited to energy.

The EU member is also bidding to sell 150 Airbus Jumbo’s to Turkish Airlines (THY), Bricq said prior to her visit to Turkey. THY has been in talks with aircraft manufacturers to buy 150 passenger jets, but the final purchase decision is up to its board, said Zafer Çağlayan, Turkish Economy Minister after his meeting with Bricq and French company representatives.

“The negotiations between THY and Airbus has been going on for a while, but were hampered because of political disputes on several occasions,” Çağlayan added.

Turkey-France ties were at their worst during the presidency of Hollande’s predecessor Nicholas Sarkozy due to a number of political disputes, including the French parliamentary bills recognizing Armenian claims of genocide over the Ottoman-era killings, and the former President’s stance against Turkey’s EU membership bid.

Last month, Airbus won a $7.5 billion order from privately owned Pegasus Airlines for 75 of the A320 passenger jets. Bricq said the two parties had agreed for an additional optional 25 plane trade.
Commenting on mutual ties between the two countries, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Selçuk Ünal said yesterday that the ministry was seeing improvement on both sides. “We will maintain our relationship with France through all channels,” he said.

Bricq also underlined that her visit to Turkey as business representative of the French government indicated that French president François Hollande sought reconciliation and enhancement of the relationship with Turkey.

“There are 400 French companies conducting business in Turkey, which should be higher,” Bricq said, also calling on Turkish companies to invest in France and Europe. “There are 500 million consumers in the European market that Turkey should enter into. Please, take this economic statement as a political one too.”

The mutual trade volume between France and Turkey is 15 billion euros.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Turkish-French Business Council Sani Şener said that Turkish businesses appreciated France’s positively changing approach, stressing the importance of development in business and trade relations in order to enhance political relations.

Hollande, who is expected to visit Turkey himself in February or March 2013, has spoken of France’s will to establish a “stable and trusting relationship” with Turkey several times. The two leaders, Hollande and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, came together in Brazil last June and agreed to open “a new chapter” in relations, following Turkey’s abandonment of earlier sanctions against France.