Ankara, December 4, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed to complete Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project, or TANAP, before 2018, the Turkish premier, Ahmet Davutoglu, said on Thursday.
“We have reached an agreement [with Azerbaijan] to realize the TANAP project not in 2018 as planned, before it ,” Davutoglu told a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.
“We will work for it non-stop. We will do whatever is needed for the TANAP project,” he added.
“TANAP and Baku-Tbilisi and Ceyhan, as two big projects, are the main channels to transfer oil and natural gas sources from the Caspian to the Mediterranean and Europe,” he said.
TANAP is an integral part of the larger Southern Gas Corridor, which is projected to carry 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey.
The project’s capacity is planned to reach 23 bcm by 2023, and 31 bcm by 2026.
Davutoglu’s meeting with Aliyev followed a worsening of bilateral ties with Moscow after Turkey downed a Russian warplane that violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Nov. 24.
Russian officials also said Thursday that negotiations over the multi-billion-dollar Turkish Stream pipeline project, which would have carried Russian natural gas to Europe through Turkey, have been suspended.
Alexey Miller, chief executive officer of the Russian energy company, Gazprom, said that Turkey had not returned to Russia with a proposal about the project, adding that it was now waiting for an intergovernmental agreement between Ankara and Moscow.
On Wednesday, Turkey’s Petroleum Pipeline Corporation and Qatar’s national oil company signed a memorandum of understanding for long-term LNG trade, which was being interpreted by analysts as a counter measure to end dependence on Russian gas imports.
As Turkey is an energy-dependent country and meets about 92 percent of its oil and 98 percent of its natural gas demand through imports, Azerbaijan with its vast hydrocarbon reserves in the Caspian region, is strategically important.
In Baku, Davutoglu also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to defuse the increased tension:
“Let’s meet on the negotiating ground, instead of [making] bilateral accusations. Then, if any information about the reality of the incident [downing the warplane] and how it occurred is asked, we’ve already shared it but we will share it one more time.”
He also added: “Turkey is ready to discuss every topic with Russia. … The only things that we will not negotiate are the borders of the Republic of Turkey or its right to independence.”
However, Davutoglu criticized Moscow’s series of economic sanctions, describing it as a “contradiction”.
“Those who do not like economic embargos imposed on them, should not place an embargo on others,” Davutoglu said.
The prime minister also highlighted the importance of economic relations with Azerbaijan.
“Our aim is to increase investments to $20 billion as soon as possible and to raise our trade volume [with Azerbaijan], which is $5 billion now, to $15billion.”
Regional issues also featured during the Turkish prime minister’s trip:
“Our stance, as Turkey over Nagorno-Karabakh is clear. Turkey will continue its support of Azerbaijan until all the occupied soils of Azerbaijan belong to Azerbaijan.
“Establishing peace in the Caucasus and its nearing regions depends on Turkey-Azerbaijan relations.
“So, we attach much importance to three mechanisms; Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia, Turkey-Azerbaijan-Iran and Turkey-Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan,” he added.
Source: The Journal of Turkish Weekly