Review by Christos T. Panagopoulos –
Turkey’s role in supplying energy is vital for the European Union’s energy security, President Abdullah Gül has said, urging the union to consider Turkey’s key position during accession talks.
“You must closely follow the middle- and long-term strategic projects developed to carry Caucasian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern natural gas … to Europe through Turkey. We believe these projects will help the consolidation of Europe’s security, stability and welfare, in addition to maintaining our energy security,” the president said in a speech delivered on the first of the two-day Atlantic Council Energy and Economy Summit organized in Istanbul.
Expressing his regret that the energy chapter in the negotiations between the EU and Turkey had not yet begun, Gül called on the union to step up to the plate regarding the issue.
“I believe it’s important to underline that energy is one of the blocked chapters in our membership negotiations with the EU. Despite our efforts, this is a great contradiction and is unfortunate. No doubt, the side that should resolve this contradiction is the EU,” he said.
Stressing that the country’s geographical location put it in the heart of the continent’s energy sources, Gül also said Turkey would be the most reasonable and feasible route through which to carry resources recently discovered in the eastern Mediterranean, which are estimated to be more than 3.5 trillion cubic meters.
Turkey has begun to voice its eagerness to be involved in the transportation of natural gas reserves discovered by Greek Cyprus and Israel to Europe, which has been seeking to diversify its energy sources to relieve dependency on Russia.
According to Gül, Turkey’s involvement in such a project would contribute to the resolution of regional problems, including the Cyprus issue.
Considering Turkey has had rough relations with both of those countries, many analysts warn against the challenges of such an alliance in terms of the economy.
Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, who also spoke at the conference in his first visit to Turkey, lent full support to Gül’s remarks in his speech.
“The EU is dependent on Turkey in order to reduce its dependency on the limited number of suppliers,” Luxembourg’s head of state said. “Particularly the Southern Gas corridor may provide the sources the EU needs.”
The grand duke also said the EU not only needed Turkey, “in European energy, but also as a major player in the political scene.”
“Turkey is a bridge for the EU toward the Middle East, Caucasia, Central Asia and North Africa. The EU cannot do without Turkey. This is why Luxembourg supports Turkey’s European aspiration to become a member of the EU and warmly welcomes the resumption of negotiations early this month,” he said.
He also said Turkey had a major role to play in energy supply security because of its geographical location, noting that it was a potential energy hub at the crossroad between major energy producers and the most energy-hungry countries in the world.