Energy and Turkish coffee

May 15, 2006 02:00 AM

by Egemen Bagis, foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan

Turkey's desire to become the "energy hub" in her region is not just the government's desire to become a player in the global energy market, but a result of the geo-political location of the country and the political developments in the area.
From a Trans-Atlantic security point of view, Turkey, a staunch NATO ally, is also the correct choice of the west. To understand this even more clearly, one needs to examine the energy producers and consumers in the region.

In one key area, the Caucasus, we see a strong power struggle. Azerbaijan and Georgia are caught between the United States and Russia. Russia seems to prefer playing a heavy hand there. Their transport of energy resources to western markets was important 10 years ago, but is now more important. The BTC pipeline is a key lifeline.
However, under the current geopolitics, one pipeline doesn't ensure the pro-western direction of the Caucasus. The region needs more physical, economic, institutional ties with Turkey, thus with the west. Energy security of supply is of crucial importance for the trans-Atlantic partners.

Latest developments have shown once again the fragility and vulnerability of the energy markets. The need to diversify transport routes as well as supply sources has become all the more important.
Turkey can and is willing to play an important role to contribute to enhancing global energy security of supplies through the realization of multiple oil and gas pipelines, energy terminals and related infrastructures. Her priority in this context is to become an energy corridor, a hub and an aggregator.

BTC should be crowned with the extension of the pipeline to Kazakhstan. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan should be encouraged to conclude their negotiations and sign the agreement as soon as possible. The Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Project is a matter of urgency as it will contribute to diversification of routes and resources.
Another important project which Turkey shall realize is the Samsun-Ceyhan by-pass oil pipeline, which is to carry 60 mm tpy of mainly Kazak and Russian oil from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

Considering the hundreds of tankers that pass on a daily basis from the Bosporus and the threat of possible disasters, one should note the importance of this project just on security and environmental aspects alone. Turkey has also been active in developing projects for the secure and sustainable transportation of natural gas.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) natural gas pipeline project, which will have a capacity of transporting 16 bn cm per annum, will become operational by the end of 2006. Another gas transport project, the Arab Natural Gas Pipeline, is also expected to be operational in 2008.

Turkey has also been developing specific transport projects for Europe such as the Turkish-Greek-Italian Inter-connector Project and the Nabucco Natural Gas Pipeline project, which have been developed to transport natural gas of various origins through the Turkish national grid to Europe.
One project that is of particular importance and urgency for providing diversification of transport routes and energy resources to Europe is the Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Project. Turkey places utmost importance to the realization of this project without which the East-West Energy Corridor will not be complete.

Turkey is also interested in the development of Iraqi natural gas reserves, which are mostly located in northern Iraq. Iraqi natural gas could easily be connected to the Turkish national grid through a pipeline to be constructed parallel to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline using the right of way of the latter. A heavy-handed Russian policy in the Caucasus would raise regional concerns.
The US also needs to be more convincing for its allies in the Caucasus and Central Asia that the US presence and contributions in the region will be for stability and prosperity.

Caucasus is also a key energy periphery for the EU. Once Turkey joins the EU, the Caucasus will be the EU's periphery. Next to the mutual nightmare of a possible clash of civilizations and Turkey's role to prevent it from taking place, energy is one of the most important reasons why the EU should take Turkey as a full member.
As recently written by Murat Yetkin of Radikal daily newspaper, one should keep in mind that Turkey does not grow coffee, but by the style of brewing is internationally known for its brand of "Turkish coffee."

Turkey is not a producer of energy either. But considering Turkey's location, one should realize that the only way to transport petroleum or natural gas from northern Iraq or Russia and the Caucuses or Iran is through Turkey.
By the pipelines that have either been completed or under construction, Turkey is becoming the energy corridor of Europe.

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