Turkey, an EU membership candidate, is planning to build its first nuclear power station at Akkuyu, in the Mediterranean province of Mersin, under a deal signed last year with the Russian state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom. The Turkish government plans to build three nuclear power plants within five years.
Greece is similarly seismic-sensitive, like its Aegean neighbor Turkey. Plans by quake-prone Turkey to build nuclear plants “make no sense” after the disaster that has befallen Japan, Greek President Carolos Papoulias said on Friday.
“At a time when we have a disaster in Japan that has shaken us all, Turkey’s desire to build a nuclear reactor on a seismogenous area makes no sense,” Papoulias said while visiting Tanagra Airbase near Athens. Papoulias said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should “think about this several times” and the EU ought to intervene to prevent a “catastrophe on its doorstep.”
In southern Cyprus, Greek Cypriot government spokesperson Stefanos Stefanou last week said they will raise the issue of the planned Turkish nuclear power station with the EU.
Stefanou told reporters after a cabinet meeting that the government will present a well-documented case in Brussels, while noting that a special meeting of ministers dealing with nuclear energy issues will be convened in Brussels. He said the prospect of building a nuclear power plant in the area of Cyprus is bound to raise concern and the issue will be given due attention.
In Ankara, Turkish diplomatic sources took a cautious approach to the statements by Greece and Greek Cyprus about taking this issue to the EU.
“We don’t yet know in what kind of framework they are planning in taking the issue to Brussels. We first should see what they do,” a Turkish diplomat, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman on Sunday, when asked whether Ankara planned to respond to statements by Greece and Greek Cyprus.
Environmental groups warn that since Turkey is prone to earthquakes, building nuclear plants would be too dangerous, especially since the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami which have triggered a nuclear emergency in Japan. In addition to protests in İstanbul and Mersin, activists in Cyprus on Saturday also protested against Turkish government plans to build the country’s first nuclear reactor. About 50 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots wearing masks and white overalls warned the plant could also threaten Cyprus, an island some 100 kilometers away.
Ankara last week said that the nuclear crisis following Japan’s natural disasters should not lead Turkey to abandon its nuclear plans. “It would be a mistake for Turkey to suddenly say it renounces nuclear energy,” President Abdullah Gül said, while Erdoğan said: “There is no investment without risk. Otherwise you should not use a gas cylinder in your home, either.”