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Turkish risks for EU and Russia

Over the past few years Turkey has been claiming the role of the main regional gas dispatcher managing major transit flows. Ankara’s ambitions are quite seriously substantiated, because practically all pipeline projects implemented recently or planned for the future run through Turkey or its economic zone in the Black Sea. This concerns projects initiated or supported by Russia (Blue Stream, South Stream and Samsun-Ceyhan) as well as those promoted by the European Union (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, Nabucco and other projects of the Southern Transportation Corridor).

Being carried away by struggle against each other, Russia and the EU, supported by the USA, in fact encourage Turkey and speed up implementation of the neo-Ottoman concept that has been ripening for several years. This ideology is based on assigning Turkey the status of major regional superpower that would have dominating influence on areas that used to be part of the Ottoman Empire (Arab, Caucasus and Balkan states). The moderate Islamic triumvirate ruling Turkey currently (PM Erdogan, president Gul and foreign minister Davutoglu) consists of people who have strong geo-economic and geopolitical ambitions.

We can mention just recent firm demands of Ankara to Europe not to allow Cyprus to chair the EU or Erdogan’s request to the German government to ensure that children of Turkish origin living in Germany are taught Turkish as the first and main language at German school. Despite numerous promises, Turkey has not issued a permit to Russia to lay South Stream pipes in Turkey’s exclusive economic zone. There are also doubts about economic advantages of a contract on building a nuclear power plant by Russia in Turkey; expenses will be recovered in a decade at best. The Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project is also questionable as it does not enable Russian oil exports in the southern direction to bypass Turkey, which was the reason for designing the Burgas-Alexandropoulos project. All these issues make us ponder over whether attempts of the EU and Russia to work out their energy strategies, that stipulate larger dependence on political sentiments in Ankara, are justified in the long-term perspective.

By Stanislav Mitrakhovich, NESF leading expert

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