Impossible to halt Akkuyu nuclear plant project: Minister

Turkish Minister Taner Yıldız said it is not possible for Turkey to cancel the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant as the project has been made upon an intergovernmental agreement between Turkey and Russia, in contrary to the opposition parties' claims.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has recently promised that it would cancel the construction of the Akkuyu Power Plant, which will be the first nuclear power plant of the country, upon environmental concerns over the plant if the party becomes the winner of the upcoming elections.

"This is not possible. I mean, it is impossible to annul the intergovernmental agreements. Our governments will complete the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear plant. The construction of the plant has now been a state policy, secured by an intergovernmental agreement between Turkey and Russia" he said during an interview with a group of energy journalists in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri.

In 2011, Russian company Rosatom signed an agreement with the Turkish Energy Ministry to build and operate the nuclear power plant. And according to the intergovernmental agreement between Turkey and Russia on the construction of the nuclear plant, a project company was established.

The nuclear plant will require investment worth $22 billion.

Yıldız, who has been holding the ministry post for the last seven years, also said the most exciting works for him during his ministry were the launch of international energy projects, including the oil distribution deal from the northern Iraq, the agreements with Russia and Japan to build Turkey's first and second nuclear power plants, respectively, the launch of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) and the acquisition of oil fields in the Caspian Sea.

"What has made me very excited within the country are all about liberalizing the domestic energy market, including the privatization of all power distribution services and of a majority of power generation plants. I also had great pleasure with making steps to develop the renewable energy in Turkey" he said.

The most worrying incidents for him were the mining accidents, he said.

The accident during which 301 miners died at the Soma mine in 2014 was the worst ever industrial accident in the country.

Only six months after the disaster at the Soma mine, 18 miners were trapped inside the galleries of a facility in the Central Anatolian district of Karaman after an underground flood, drawing the country's focus back to the perilous safety conditions of mine workers.

Yıldız said it is not possible for Turkey to end local coal mining activities as the country needs it.

"What we need to do is to take measures to prevent accidents in the sector" he said.

Merve Erdil - Hürriyet