by Tuncay Babalı
2nd part of 2
Turkey's Energy Relations with Iran
Despite frequent Iranian declarations of contracts and partnerships, since 2001
Turks certainly do not always consider
Still, under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) chairman and prime minister Erdoğan's administration, there has been a renewed drive for energy partnership with the Islamic Republic. On July 14, 2007, Iranian oil minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh and his Turkish counterpart, Hilmi Güler, signed a memorandum of understanding by which the two sides agreed to build 2,200 miles of gas pipelines to transport up to forty billion cubic meters of gas annually to Europe through Turkey. They also agreed to increase cooperation in electricity generation and to construct natural gas power stations. This would allow the Turkish state oil company, Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı, to develop successive phases of the South Pars gas field, a $3.5 billion undertaking. But one year later, the energy accords remained formally unconcluded.
Turkish-Iranian energy cooperation has angered
Erdoğan, however, has shrugged off
Geopolitical Reality Check
The August 8, 2008 Russian invasion of
According to some analysts, in apparent retaliation for allowing the
Prime Minister Erdoğan walked a very tight rope, explaining to the Turkish daily Milliyet, "It would not be right for
As some analysts at Stratfor Intelligence Service put it, however, "Moscow got its point across: Europe can sink its money into projects designed to leave Russia in the cold [mainly east-west energy corridor projects like Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, and Nabucco], but the Russians still have the will and capacity to disrupt many of these projects."
The Georgian crisis has shattered many of the assumptions in both the East and West about how oil and gas from the Caspian Basin can best be transported to international markets and, as a result, about the relations between producing and transit countries on the one hand and those two categories and the rest of the world on the other.
Given the continued standoff between
As a result, some Caspian Basin states are now considering exporting their hydrocarbons via Russia even if that gives Moscow leverage over them, while some Western countries that want to punish Russia are discussing allowing exports via Iran; still others are pushing to resolve the Karabakh crisis in order to allow the export of oil and gas via Armenia.
No matter what solutions major powers pursue, the mere discussion of alternative energy strategies suggests old allies may come into conflict while old enemies may begin to cooperate. Perhaps the first major shift will be in Turkish-Armenian relations. On September 6, 2008, at the invitation of Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan, Turkey's president Abdullah Gül visited Armenia—a country with which Turkey does not have diplomatic relations—to watch the 2010 World Cup qualifier soccer match between their national teams.
A second outgrowth of the Georgian crisis has been plans to create a "Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform" to include
Energy dominates Turkish strategic thinking. While the
Still, the Russian invasion of
This should make
Tuncay Babalı, Ph.D., is counselor at the embassy of the
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
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