Hot topics at the World Economic Forum: Refugee crisis and energy

Hot topics at the World Economic Forum: Refugee crisis and energy

After the infamous “one minute” incident, the World Economic Forum (WEF) met in Istanbul in June 2012 for the summit “Roadmaps for Reform, Pathways to Inclusive Growth.”

Two years have passed, along with water under the bridge. The WEF is again hosted in Istanbul for a special meeting on “Unlocking Resources for Regional Development.”

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the focus of both summits, countries such as Libya, Syria and Iraq face major chaos.

Dreams and targets of reform and growth have lost their places to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the drama of the Syrian refugees, reported to have reached 10 million and energy security.

The first impression of the early hours of the meeting is that the summit’s two hot topics are energy and refugees. The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has reached more than 1.5 million, and they are a part of our daily lives now. Last year, refugees used to be the reality in cities such as Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, but now they are a reality in Istanbul as well.

The barefoot, shaggy Syrian girls approaching car windows to beg is only a small dimension of the drama. While almost 200,000 Syrian refugees are living in 17 refugee camps, the rest are scattered in various cities.

The drama that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emphasized in his keynote speech at the WEF does not find the attention it needs in the international community. Turkey cannot receive its moral and material aid.

President Erdoğan said despite the $1.5 million provided by the UNHCR, Turkey has spent $4.5 billion of its own resources.

The president’s special adviser, İbrahim Kalın, said the situation was alarming. “How long can Turkey sustain this situation?” he asked.

The second hot topic of the WEF in Istanbul was energy. On this front, Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, provided clues of a new picture. 

Problems arising from the sanctions that the U.S. and the EU are imposing on Russia, a major player in the natural gas and oil market, are awaiting this country in the future.

The American Schlumberger Company, which provides technical support for oil sources in Russia, can suspend its work in this country.

What does this mean? It means a drop in Russia’s oil exportation may be expected.

According to Birol, there has also been a big drop in Libya’s oil production due to the chaos into which the country has fallen.

Iraq continues to produce 3 million barrels of oil each day because, for now, only 10 percent of its oil production is affected.

According to Birol, who spoke in the “Understanding Regional Energy Dynamics” meeting, energy security will be one of the top items on the global agenda in coming days.

When viewed from a global point perspective, energy and refugees are subjects that are not too far apart from one another.