Turkey vital for energy, EU commissioner says

Turkey vital for energy, EU commissioner says

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey vital for energy, EU commissioner says

Construction work continues at the Star Refinery at the Petkim facility in the Aegean province of İzmir. The project is a joint Turkish-Azeri investment. Turkey is doing all it can to feed Europe with energy, Minister Taner Yıldız says.

Turkey holds significant importance for Europe’s energy security due to its geographical positioning and regional roles, said the European Union’s top energy commissioner yesterday. 

“Looking at the map, we can see that Turkey plays a significant role in energy security,” Günther Oethinger said before the start of the “Quartet Meeting” in Istanbul.

Oethinger attended the meeting alongside Stefan Füle, commissioner responsible for enlargement and European neighborhood policy, Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s EU minister, and Taner Yıldız, the energy minister. 

“We have talked on plans for increasing the inter-consecutiveness of Turkey with the countries in the region and Turkey’s neighbors to compensate the need in case of a problem in any other supplier,” said Oethinger, noting that Turkey remains “a strong candidate” for the transfer of the Caspian energy resources to Europe.

However, Turkey has not yet started the official chapter with the EU within the scope of the membership negotiations, Yıldız recalled after the meeting.
“Turkey has done all its best and did not put forward the opening of the energy chapter as a condition while signing crucial energy agreements also effecting Europe,” he said in response to a Daily News question. 

“We have had more de-facto gains than we had in official talks,” said Yıldız. “Now it is time to put them on paper.” 

Yıldız also said talks with the EU commissioner did not include the hot topic of embargo on Iranian oil.

The southern corridor

According to Yıldız, Turkey was the only country that had taken a concrete step in energy projects to feed Europe by signing on Oct. 25, 2011, the ShahDeniz II agreement with Azerbaijan to supply natural gas to the Nabucco pipeline project.

“We have talked about the major energy transfer plans such as Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline [ITGI], Nabucco and Trans Anatolian Pipeline [TANAP], which all form the southern corridor,” Yıldız said. “If the energy chapter to start negotiations with the EU has not started yet due to political reasons, it is not our problem but theirs.”

The energy projects between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan; Turkey and Georgia; and all the projects that include the transfer of Caspian gas to Europe were the top issues at the Istanbul meeting, Oethinger said. 

In order to form “a united Europe,” the EU has to work with other countries, according to the energy commissioner, who said “Turkey comes first in these countries for cooperation.”

“We are aiming to strengthen and deepen our relations with Turkey in energy issues,” said Füle, noting that in order to take concrete steps the union could form a road map and assign a special committee for energy negotiations with Turkey. 

Bağış said Turkey’s 52 years of talks with the union for full membership still continued and urged the union to start opening new chapters – such as energy – that also applied to the interests of the other member countries.