Moscow, 3 April - A ceremony marking the start of full-scale construction work on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant took place in the Turkish province of Mersin on 3 April 2018. The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan via videoconference. Addressing those gathered at the ceremony, President Putin said: «The first power unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant is expected to be launched in 2023. Thanks to the Akkuyu project, new, modern, well-paying jobs will appear in Russia and Turkey [along with the development of] advanced production [capacities] and technology. The object will use advanced engineering solutions [and] cost-effective and reliable technologies. The highest safety standards and the most stringent environmental regulations will be observed. I am sure that, in 2023, all of Turkey will feel returns of the energy generated [at this] high-tech facility». Turkish President Recep Erdogan, in turn, said that the 2023 launch of the nuclear power plant would coincide with the centenary of the Republic of Turkey. «With the commissioning of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in 2023, Turkey will join the family of countries with nuclear power. Akkuyu will meet 10% of all our electricity needs», he said. After their opening statements, the leaders of the two countries signed off on the start of construction work and a symbolic button was pressed to mark the pouring of the «first concrete» into the base of the reactor building of power unit 1 of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. More than 500 people attended the inauguration ceremony, including local residents, workers, schoolchildren, representatives of local government bodies, heads of participating ministries and departments, journalists, business partners, and Rosatom representatives. Also present were young Turkish graduates of Russian universities, namely those who earned their degrees just under a month ago and are expected to start work at the project company, JSC Akkuyu Nuclear, in the near future. Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev commented: «Rosatom is building in Turkey a cutting edge, tried and tested («generation III+») nuclear power plant featuring four power units based on the Russian VVER-1200 design which meets the world’s highest safety standards. The model we are building at Akkuyu is already being built in a series. Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP and unit 1 of Leningrad NPP-2, based on the same design, are already up and running, with the former in a commercial operation and the latter launched in February. The safe and efficient operation of these units underscores the reliability of our technologies». Noting that the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is the largest joint project between Russia and Turkey, he added: «It is important to emphasise that the project is progressing according to plan in efficient cooperation with our Turkish partners». On the eve of the ceremony, JSC Akkuyu Nuclear, the project operator, acquired a license for nuclear power plant construction from Turkey’s Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK). In late March, the project company also received permission to build the reactor building of the first power unit of the Akkuyu plant from the administration of the Gulnar district. The pouring of the ‘first concrete’ is an important stage of the implementation process, marking the transition to full-scale construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, including construction of the buildings and facilities constituting its ‘nuclear island’. Earlier, JSC Akkuyu Nuclear was designated strategic investor in Republic of Turkey. An updated strategic investment certificate was issued to the project company following its submission of an application to Turkey’s Ministry of Economy. In particular it provides tax reductions and exemptions (including from income tax and value added tax), as well as custom duties exemption. Notes to Editors: Russia and Turkey signed an intergovernmental cooperation agreement on the construction and operation of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant – Akkuyu – in May 2010. In December 2010, project company JSC Akkuyu Nuclear was established in Ankara, which has assumed responsibilities for the design, construction, maintenance, operation, and decommissioning of the nuclear power plant. The NPP project is currently fully funded by the Russian side. According to the agreement, at least 51% of shares in the finished project should belong to Russian companies, while up to 49% of shares can be available for purchase by outside investors. On 13 October 2011, Turkey’s Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) granted JSC Akkuyu Nuclear a license to work on the site. In November 2013, the agency approved the updated Basic Site Report prepared by JSC Akkuyu Nuclear under the Site License applicable to the Akkuyu NPP construction of the installed capacity of 4,800MW. On December 01, 2014 the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization approved the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) of the Akkuyu NPP project. On 15 June 2017, the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) issued JSC Akkuyu Nuclear a license to generate electricity. On February 09, 2017 the TAEK approved the parameters of the Akkuyu NPP site. According to intergovernmental cooperation agreement, the commissioning of the first power unit should take place no later than 7 years after the issuance of all necessary construction permits by the Republic of Turkey. In 2018, 35 Turkish students earned higher education degrees from Russian universities following a special professional course of study in the field of «Nuclear power plants, design, operation and engineering» in order to be able to work at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. At the moment, more than 200 Turkish students are enrolled at such programmes at Russian universities in preparation for work at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. All work on the Akkuyu project is carried out in close cooperation with Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).