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Ankara hosts high-level talks on Turkmen gas transit to Europe via Turkey.

Turkey and Turkmenistan discussed the ways to transfer Turkmen gas to Europe through the territory of Turkey during president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 3 in Ankara.

"Turkmenistan lies on a key location so as to connect Central Asia to international markets over the Caspian Sea," Erdogan said at the joint press conference with Berdimuhamedov, the Turkish media report.

Erdogan said that Turkmens were exerting vigorous efforts to turn this position into opportunity and make the best of it. "Our cooperation, especially in transportation and energy, adds a strategic dimension to our bilateral relations," he said, reports Anadolu Agency.

Stressing that they shared the same vision with Turkmenistan regarding natural gas transfer, Erdogan said they are also in close cooperation with other countries in the region, mainly Azerbaijan, over the issue.

Erdogan said a trilateral energy mechanism among Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan was started last year. "We decided to raise it to the level of leaders and hold the first meeting of the mechanism in Turkmenistan this year," he added.

Currently, Turkey receives Turkmen natural gas as re-export from Iran. The possible routes of Turkmen gas via Turkey to Europe may pass through Azerbaijan or through Iran; however, the most probable route will be from Azerbaijan to Turkey to European energy markets.

TANAP is part of a project which will carry Azerbaijani natural gas via Georgia and Turkey to Greece, and from Greece to further European markets. It is scheduled to be completed by 2019.

Erdogan also described Turkmenistan as a key country in terms of the Turkish contracting sector. "It is the top country in number of projects Turkish contractors undertake in Central Asia," he said.

The Turkish president said the cost of Turkish contracting projects in Turkmenistan has reached $46 million. For his part, Berdimuhamedov pointed to Turkish businessmen in Turkmenistan, saying: "Last year, we had a 26% rise in our trade volume."

He added the trade volume between the countries exceeded $6 billion in 2014. Erdogan congratulated Turkmenistan on the 20th anniversary of its Neutrality Day, celebrating the status of permanent neutrality given by the United Nations on December 12, 1995.

Erdogan added that Turkmenistan both preserves this status and contributes positively to regional and global peace. Describing 2015 as highly important also for Turkey, Berdimuhamedov said: "We will participate in the commemoration of the Battle of Canakkale."

In January, Erdogan sent invitation letters to more than 100 leaders to participate in the commemoration of the Battle of Canakkale on April 24. During his official visit in Ankara this week, Berdimuhamedov will also attend a ceremony at TOBB University in Ankara, where he will receive an honorary doctorate.

He is expected to attend the opening ceremony of Turkmenistan International Investment Forum in Istanbul on Wednesday.

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Publication:AKIpress News Agency
Geographic Code:9TURM
Date:Mar 4, 2015
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