ISTANBUL, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russia there were other places Turkey could get natural gas and other countries that could build its first nuclear plant, in the wake of Russian incursions into Turkish air space during its air campaign in Syria.
Russian aircraft twice entered Turkish air space at the weekend. Turkish F-16 jets have also been harassed by Syrian-based missile systems and unidentified planes since then.
“We can’t accept the current situation. Russia’s explanations on the air space violations are not convincing,” the Turkish daily Sabah and others quoted Erdogan as telling reporters as he flew to Japan for an official visit.
He said he was resentful over what had happened but did not currently plan to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“These are matters for Russia to think about. If the Russians don’t build the Akkuyu (nuclear plant in southern Turkey) another will come and build it,” he said.
Turkey in 2013 commissioned Russia’s state-owned Rosatom to build four 1,200-megawatt reactors, but a start date for what is Turkey’s first nuclear power plant project has not yet been set.
“We are Russia’s number one natural gas consumer. Losing Turkey would be a serious loss for Russia. If necessary, Turkey can get its natural gas from many different places,” he said.
Around 28-30 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Turkey’s 50 bcm annual natural gas needs are met by Russia. (Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Hugh Lawson)