Turkey in August will open its very first indigenous integrated solar panel factory as part of its efforts to strengthen the nation’s power grid, the country’s president said on Sunday.

“We ensured over $100 billion has been invested in energy by the public and private sectors over the past 18 years,” since the ruling party came to power, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a mass launching ceremony of hydroelectric power plants in the northern province of Tokat, speaking via video link from Istanbul.

In the first five months of 2020, he stressed, Turkey boosted its electricity production from domestic and renewable sources to 66%, adding that last year Turkey was second place in Europe in the production of electrical energy based on renewable resources.

“It is not possible for a country without energy to talk about being civilized,” he said.

At a time when the world closed into itself, Turkey has shown that it is not surrendering to the pandemic but is instead supporting investment, production, and employment, he said.

Erdogan said he believes power plants make Turkey stronger, as they are symbols of development, advancement, and growth.

“Continuing investing in all areas alongside healthcare services during the outbreak showed Turkey’s determination to achieve its goals for the year 2023,” the nation’s centennial, he said.

He underlined that in 2002, Turkey had 31,000 megawatts of installed power capacity, while in 2020 it boasted nearly three times that number, 91,000 megawatts.

Erdogan reiterated that Akkuyu, Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, will start operating in 2023.

“With this project, we will both diversify our electricity production and ensure that our energy portfolio has a more balanced structure.”

Fifty-two hydroelectricity power plants in 26 Turkish cities with 1,439 megawatts total installed capacity began operating in the last two years, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez told the ceremony.

Nearly 11.3 billion Turkish liras ($1.65 billion) was invested in these plants, he added.

EU travel restrictions on Turkey

On the EU keeping travel restrictions on Turkey despite its success in fighting COVID-19, Erdogan said: “The intention behind the EU’s double standard putting countries with transparency issues in front of Turkey is clearly evident.”

Turkey will again win its rights through dedicated struggle, he added.

“In fact, making progress this way through struggle makes our country with its public institutions and private sector stronger, more resilient, more flexible in the face of crisis,” he said, adding that Turkey trusts itself in all areas, including health care, the economy, diplomacy and security.

“We saw who was weak in this regard, first in the refugee crisis and then during the pandemic,” Erdogan said.

He said he believes that Turkey’s strength comes from its rightfulness, and that they will surely succeed in the end.

Eastern Mediterranean

Speaking on the drilling activities of Turkey’s Fatih and Yavuz drill ships in the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan said: “We foiled the efforts to lay games and traps for Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The country plans to carry out five drills in the Eastern Mediterranean this year, according to Turkey’s Annual Presidential Program.

Turkey has long asserted its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that Turkey and Turkish Cyprus also have rights to the resources in the area.

Following offshore exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey then took action for exploration and drilling in the Black Sea, Erdogan said.

“We will continue this work without compromising our rights under international law,” he added.

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