EU urged to open energy chapter
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız (L) and UK’s Europe Minister David Lidington attend lunch during an energy forum organized by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and British Petroleum (BP) in Ankara.Energy transportation projects passing through Turkey are vital for Europe’s energy security and the EU should speed up the energy chapter opening process with the candidate country, the U.K.’s minister for Europe and the Turkish energy minister have said in separate speeches.
The U.K.’s EU Minister David Lidington, who was in Ankara to meet Turkish EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and attend an energy forum, voiced his country’s strong support in the opening of negotiating the chapter on energy in membership talks between Turkey and the European Union, while arguing that it was not possible to speak about energy in Europe without mentioning Turkey.
Lidington, in an interview with Anadolu Agency yesterday, recalled that the opening of the energy chapter had been blocked by Greek Cyprus, a member of the EU since 2004.
“All blocks on chapters should be lifted in the shortest time possible and the path for Turkey’s EU membership should be smoothed,” he said.
Delivering a speech at an energy forum organized by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and British Petroleum (BP) in Ankara, Lidington said energy cooperation with Turkey was important in the U.K.’s quest to diversify its energy supplies.
“Positive steps in U.K.-Turkey energy cooperation can help Turkey open the energy chapter and reach the EU membership goal,” he stressed.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız also drew attention to Turkey’s vital role in maintaining the energy diversification of the EU, and claimed that the reasons for the blocking of the energy chapter were “political.” “Not opening the energy chapter in Turkey’s EU membership process is politics’ burden on the sector. This burden should be lifted,” Yıldız said.
He added that Turkey had been doing whatever was necessary for the energy issue and vowed to maintain doing so.
Yıldız and Lidington, who held a brief bilateral meeting after the forum, also underlined the importance of energy transportation projects that aim to bring Iraqi and Azeri gas to Europe through Turkey. The significance of the Southern Gas Corridor project, which also includes the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) that will carry Azerbaijani gas through Turkey, was particularly underlined during the meeting, both ministers told reporters after the meeting.
Yıldız and Lidington discussed how to speed up the process for the $45 billion TANAP deal, in which a British Petroleum-led consortium will start bringing Azeri gas to Europe through Turkish soil before the end of 2018.
The U.K. has been a staunch supporter of Turkey’s entry into the EU from the very beginning. Turkey began formal EU membership talks in 2005, which subsequently hit several stumbling blocks.
Negotiations resumed last November following an almost three-year freeze, as both sides re-engaged to open a new chapter.
Ankara has only provisionally closed off 35 policy areas, or chapters, which every candidate must conclude to be allowed entry. It has opened 13 other chapters.
“The U.K. remains a very strong and committed supporter of Turkey’s application for full membership to the EU. We want to see that process move forward,” said Lidington, during a visit he made to Çavuşoğlu after attending the forum.