Erdoğan calls for cooperation, not conflict in Med Sea energy
Hazal Özcan – EDİRNE
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 30 called on all involving parties in the Eastern Mediterranean to make energy a tool for cooperation, not conflict.
“Some [circles] are applying to a threatening language and blackmailing policies regarding the sharing of sources in Eastern Mediterranean. No country is above international law. No one can reach anything with the ‘I did it, so it happened’ logic,” Erdoğan said.
“Turkey will not bow down to these,” he added.
The president’s remarks came during the opening ceremony of the Europe leg of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) Project.
“I am calling on all parties in the eastern Mediterranean. Let’s make energy a tool for cooperation, rather than conflict. Do not apply to ways which will make the region pay” he said.
Erdoğan also referred to Ankara’s drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, saying it is not possible to “oust” Turkey in the matter.
“Our two high-technology drilling vessels and two seismic survey ships continue their works in the region,” he said.
Erdoğan added that Turkey will not withdraw its ships from the region because it angers some circles. “The ships will continue to perform their duties.”
“Turkey will not let others crush its and Turkish Cyprus’ interests,” he said.
The president also underlined that Turkey’s drilling activities will yield peace and prosperity, referring to a recent agreement inked with Libya on maritime zones in the Mediterranean.
Libya’s internationally recognized government and Turkey on Nov. 28 signed an agreement on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea.
“Now, they are attacking Libya,” Erdoğan said. He also added that once the Turkish Parliament passes the agreement, the current situation will have a different dimension.
TANAP is a project for peace
Erdoğan also voiced his support for the TANAP project, a natural gas pipeline project to carry Azeri natural gas to multiple European markets, saying it centers around peace.
“Here, we witness a historic moment. I must stress that this is a project for peace as much as it is a regional project, Erdoğan said.
The president also praised the cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as the shareholders of the project.
“We finalized TANAP, as planned, despite all the events and tensions. We put this richness into the service of our citizens and all humanity,” he said. Erdoğan also underlined the importance of TANAP regarding its contribution to Europe’s energy supply security.
Erdoğan also announced that the ceremony for the TurkStream project will take place in Istanbul on Jan. 8 2020.
For his part, Azerbaijan’s President İlham Aliyev also hailed Ankara’s close relations with Baku and the countries’ cooperation on the TANAP project.
“TANAP is a part of Southern Gas Corridor. Today, the corridor unites seven countries. It is an international cooperation project. The actualization of this project is a result of the political will of Turkey and Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said.
“We trust each other and our brotherhood grows day by day,” he said.
Aliyev also said that Turkey is a country open for foreign investment and joint investments increase the prosperity of both people.
The inauguration of the Europe leg of the TANAP project took place on Nov. 30 in the northwestern province of Edirne’s bordering İpsala district with the participation of top statesmen from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria and Greece, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Azerbaijan’s President İlham Aliyev.
Officials from seven countries attended the ceremony including Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidential Council Bosniak member Shefik Dzaferovic, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Greece’s Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.
The TANAP Project, dubbed the “silk road of energy,” will provide the transfer of Azerbaijani gas to Europe. Even though the commercial gas flow is not expected to commence until the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is finalized, test runs for gas flows have begun.
TANAP, a 1,850-kilometer-long pipeline through Turkey, foresees carrying gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field, as part of the Southern Gas Corridor. It also includes the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) extension through Georgia and the TAP to Greece, Albania and Italy.
The pipeline’s entrance to Turkey starts with the eastern Ardahan province, bordering Georgia. It passes through 20 provinces and 67 districts of Turkey, ending in Edirne’s İpsala.
Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz I field has been pumping gas since 2006, selling it to the neighboring Georgia and Turkey, while output from Shah Deniz II is expected to reach 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year by 2021, with 10 bcm earmarked for Europe and 6 bcm for Turkey.
Parts of the corridor in Georgia and Turkey are completed and the first commercial deliveries of gas from Shah Deniz II to Turkey began in July 2018, although the TAP project has faced delays to construction due to environmental issues. TAP also includes Britain’s BP, Italy’s Snam and Spain’s Enagas.
TANAP’s shareholders are Azerbaijan’s energy company SOCAR, with a 51 percent share, followed by Turkey’s BOTAŞ, with a 30 percent share. BP and SOCAR Turkey are the other two shareholders of the project.
The total investment in the project amount to almost $6.5 billion. The Turkish and Azerbaijani governments gave the start to the project by inking the deal on June 26, 2012.
The “Host Government Agreement” passed in the Turkish Parliament on Sept. 10, 2014. Erdoğan and Aliyev first inaugurated the line in June 2018, with a ceremony held in Turkey’s Eskişehir province.