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Turkey and Ukraine agree to boost energy cooperation

Turkey and Ukraine signed six agreements aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, nuclear technology, railway transport and combating cross-border crime.

Officials from the two countries signed the agreements after talks in Ankara between visiting Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

"These agreements will strengthen the legal basis required for further improving our cooperation in every field," Sezer said

Yushchenko said that the two countries were determined to boost trade and set the target at $10 billion for 2010, more than triple the current volume of bilateral trade.

"There is an excellent basis for the development of our relations," he said.

Turkish and Ukrainian officials will also start working on an arrangement to ease the visa regime between the two countries, he said.

Ukraine wants to export electricity to Turkey across the Black Sea, which separates the two countries.

It also hopes Turkey could serve as an alternative route for oil and gas to Ukraine, whose imports currently come mostly from Russia and Turkmenistan.

Turkey is involved in several big international projects to carry oil and gas from the Caspian to the Western markets, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which was inaugurated last month.

The new pipeline aims to boost access by the energy-hungry West to the rich Caspian fields, estimated to hold the world's third-largest reserves.

Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan all claim shares of the undersea wealth.

The plan to circumvent Russian pipelines has angered the Kremlin.

Most Caspian oil exports go through Russian pipelines to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, where the oil is loaded onto tankers that squeeze through the busy Bosporus strait.

Russian officials tried to persuade Azerbaijan not to sign on to the project.

Yushchenko was scheduled to meet other top Turkish officials later yesterday before heading to Istanbul today to meet with Turkish business leaders.

Beirut,06 13 2005
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The Daily Star
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