Turkey has agreed to allow Russia begin exploratory work for a huge pipeline project aimed at bringing natural gas to Europe via the Black Sea.By signing an agreement on the SouthStream pipeline, Russia hopes to avoid sending supplies through Ukraine, with whom relations are strained. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was also present – the Italian energy giant ENI is a partner in the project, along with Russia’s Gazprom.. The Southstream deal is one of a number of energy co-operation agreements signed today during a visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Ankara: “In general, we’re all satisfied by today’s talks. It was constructive, and usefull and I agree completly with Prime Minister Erdogan that now we should take into consideration the volume of our trade and economic cooperation, we should start the practice of regular intergovernmental consultations.” he told the assembled politicians and journalists. During his visit to Turkey, Putin also signed a nuclear energy deal with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under the terms of the agreement, Russia will help Turkey build its first nuclear power plant. Outside, there were angry protests from anti-nuclear campaigners.