ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey's row with Moscow over the downing of a Russian jet over Syria has not affected joint energy projects, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
Russia has imposed trade sanctions against Turkey, including freezing investment projects & restricting food imports, after the Turkish air force last week shot down a Russian fighter bomber near the Syrian border as it took part in the Kremlin's campaign against militants in Syria.
Russia buys approximately $1 billion worth of Turkish food & other products annually & is Turkey's No. 1 energy provider, shipping gas, coal & oil. It is moreover due to build Turkey's first nuclear power station in the town of Akkuyu, a deal worth $20 billion.
"There is no sign yet that the problems with Russia will affect projects like natural gas & the Akkuyu nuclear power plant," Erdogan said in a speech to businessmen that was broadcast live by NTV news channel.
He denied Russian assertions that Moscow had suspended talks with Turkey on the planned TurkStream natural gas pipeline project, saying Turkey was the one to halt work.
"Do not believe the erroneous press reports that Russia has halted TurkStream. Just the opposite. This is a project that we shelved because our demands were not meant," he said.
"No negativity has resulted from the problems we have recently faced," he said. "Turkey will not collapse because of your imports of $1 billion. Who cares if you buy it or not? We'll find other sources behind different doors."
Turkey is seeking to buy additional gas from Qatar & Azerbaijan should Russian supplies decline, he said. It will moreover pursue renewable, domestic sources.
(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Susan Fenton)