Anastasiades meets with former PM Blair in a private meeting; Turkish nuclear power plant launched

On Wednesday, Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades welcomed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Presidential Palace.

Blair was in Cyprus for a private visit, and after the meeting was over he told reporters that the two had an excellent discussion, which revolved around the Cypriot issue, challenges in the Middle East region and the ties between Cyprus and the UK.

Blair said they discussed “the strong ties between our two countries and the importance of keeping those ties in a very good condition. The Cypriot community is hugely respected in the UK.”

Responding to a question on the Cyprus problem, Blair mentioned that Anastasiades had explained his position, the big opportunities for Cyprus at the moment, but also the challenges because of the difficult relationships in the region. “We had the opportunity to discuss about the Middle East and Europe,” he added.

Blair also said that he was visiting the island for the first time and that he loved it.  “I love it, I love the culture, the sunshine and the people are really friendly. My daughter in law is Cypriot.” It is reminded that Blair’s son, Nicholas, is married to divorce lawyer Alexandra Bevir, whose mother is Greek Cypriot. Blair’s eldest son Euan is married to a woman whose mother is Turkish.

Turkish nuclear plant to be launched in 2023

The meeting came after newly-re-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan marking on Tuesday the official start of work to build Turkey’s first nuclear power station, launching construction of the $20 billion Akkuyu plant in the southern province of Mersin.

“When all four units go online, the plant will meet 10 per cent of Turkey’s energy needs,” Erdogan said, adding that despite delays Turkey still planned to start generating power at the first unit in 2023.

Last month, sources familiar with the matter said Akkuyu was likely to miss its 2023 target start-up date, but Rosatom -the Russian state-run nuclear energy agency- which is looking for local partners to take a 49 per cent stake in the project, said it is committed to the timetable. Turkish companies have been put off by the size of the financing required as well as by concerns they will not receive a sufficient share of the lucrative construction side of the deal, two industry sources have said.

Erdogan told the news conference Turkey may cooperate with Russia on defence projects besides the S-400 missile defence system which Moscow has agreed to supply to Ankara. He did not give further details.

Turkey signed an agreement to buy the S-400 system in late December in a move which raised concern in the West because it cannot be integrated into Nato’s military architecture.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will join Erdogan and Putin for a three-way summit on Syria in Ankara on Wednesday.

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