08:09 GMT +324 January 2020
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    Russia's Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Wednesday that the energy giant will begin the offshore laying of the Turkish Stream pipeline in the second half of 2017 and plans to complete the construction of two legs by the end of 2019.

    According to Turkish economic experts interviewed by Sputnik Turkey, the statement of the Russian company can be viewed as a positive signal both for the Turkish economy and for the further development of Russian-Turkish relations.

    Given the fact that the statement was made on the eve of the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 3, in Sochi, experts believe that this issue will be discussed by the two leaders during their negotiations.

    "The leaders will discuss this issue during the talks. I think that Gazprom's statement will pave the way for the discussion of concrete moments," Turkish economic expert Arda Tunca told Sputnik Turkey.

    "Before the crisis in Russian-Turkish relations, there was an active discussion on creating an energy corridor via Turkish stream. But the crisis slowed down this process. Therefore, the recent announcement of the Russian company can be viewed in a broader perspective in terms of developing international relations," the expert continued.

    According to Tunca, Gazprom's announcement means a lot in terms of enhancing cooperation between the countries.

    "The statement about the start of the process is important for the revitalization of trade, which is supposed to serve Russian and Turkish common interests.

    Turkey has long been dreaming of becoming a gas hub. Now this dream may come true, because Russia has given its approval to this process," the expert noted.
    Economic analyst Abdurrahman Yildirim also pointed out that the project will play an important role for the further development of bilateral relations between the countries.

    "This project will have a positive impact on trade, political and military relations. It will turn Turkey into an ‘energy bridge' and contribute to the development of the Turkish economy, provide Turkey with a strategically important position and promote rapprochement between the two countries," Yildirim told Sputnik Turkey.

    The Turkish Stream project was announced in late 2014 by Russian President Vladimir Putin on his state visit to Turkey. The pipeline is expected to run beneath the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and continue to a hub on the Turkish-Greek border, from where the gas could be transferred to Southern Europe.

    In November 2015, the project was suspended after a Russian Su-24 aircraft was downed by a Turkish F-16 fighter in Syria. A thaw in relations between Moscow and Ankara began in June 2016 following Turkey's apology to Russia.


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