Through its actions over the last two months, Turkey has shown the world that it is the most significant crossroads in the global flow of energy, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stated over the weekend.
Davutoğlu's remarks came on Saturday in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, where he visited Mayor Tahir Akyürek. He was asked whether two major pipeline projects in which Turkey will play an integral role, Nabucco and South Stream, were rivals.
“No. As we stressed several times before, we do not see such strategic projects as rivaling each other but instead as complementary to one another. We look at all developments in the fields of energy, transportation, economy and trade with different perspectives,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency in response.
Last Thursday, Turkey and Russia signed a deal promising Turkish support for South Stream, a major Russian natural gas pipeline project that Moscow wants to build ahead of the Nabucco pipeline backed by the West. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a deal in Ankara for the construction of part of the South Stream pipeline through Turkish territorial waters in the Black Sea, weeks after Turkey signed a preliminary deal with European Union countries on July 13 to launch construction of the US-backed Nabucco pipeline, which is expected to deliver natural gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia to Europe in an effort to reduce Europe's dependence on Russia for energy.
Earlier, Turkish officials and experts underlined that the natural gas deals inked last week by Erdoğan and Putin will help make Turkey a regional energy hub but will not change its commitment to the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline project.
“Turkey's course and priorities have not changed,” said a senior Turkish official on Friday, responding to suspicions likely to arise in the wake of Thursday's deal, under which Turkey has allowed Russia to carry out feasibility studies in its exclusive territorial waters in the Black Sea for construction of the South Stream pipeline.
Russia's South Stream pipeline rivals Nabucco, which has the backing of the EU and the United States and would provide Europe a supply of gas not subject to Russian control.
Furthermore, Davutoğlu stressed that Turkey is not a place for rival projects but complementary ones, while noting that Turkey will serve as a secure energy route, strengthening both regional economic integration and global economic structure. “Any cooperation with the European Union and the Nabucco project, which connects the European Union and Turkey, is a strategic priority for Turkey. It should be assessed as a whole. The Nabucco project that we signed in July demonstrated Turkey's central importance for energy suppliers and energy consumers between the East and West,” Davutoğlu said.
He then continued saying that in line with agreements with Russia, the South Stream and the Samsun-Ceyhan energy routes illustrate Turkey's integral role, connecting the East and West. “Being the intersection of the East-West and North-South energy corridor is a natural result of Turkey's geography,” Davutoğlu concluded.
Saying the Samsun-Ceyhan project will reduce oil transportation pressure on the Turkish straits, Davutoğlu said this will decrease the risk to the most beautiful city in the world, İstanbul. Noting that Turkey's efforts in the last two months proved that it is the most important crossroads for the flow of global energy, Davutoğlu said these projects will be decisively continued in the future, too.
“Turkey will enhance its increasing role in world economic politics, participating in both transportation and trade in the East-West and North-South energy routes for years,” he said.
On Sunday, speaking in an interview with the Kanal 7 television station, Davutoğlu complained that whenever the government launches a move in the Middle East, this move is considered a move away from Europe and vice versa, labeling such assessments baseless.
The main element in Turkey's foreign policy in last six to seven years is “integrity, comprehensiveness and the understanding of not seeing anything as alternative to something else,” he added. Davutoğlu highlighted that by getting involved in the two major energy projects, Turkey wants to tell the world that: “Yes, we have EU orientation. No one can have doubts over our NATO membership, but this geography necessitates running policies that integrate all global and neighborhood actors.” When asked whether Ankara received any reaction from Western countries after signing the latest deal with Moscow, Davutoğlu said they received no official reaction.
“Now everyone sees that Turkey has left the Cold War mentality behind and has been fulfilling requirements concerning this situation. So no reaction should come.” Calling “rationality” one of the main principles of Western thought, Davutoğlu said signing the deal with Russia was “rational behavior” for Turkey and not “ideological behavior.”
Baghdad expects to host Davutoğlu this week
According to a news report posted in the northern Iraqi province of Arbil, Davutoğlu will pay his expected official visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad sometime this week. Citing Iraqi officials, the Cihan news agency reported that during the brief visit, Davutoğlu will have bilateral talks in Baghdad. Last month, Davutoğlu announced that his expected visit to Baghdad would take place in August. Erdoğan will also visit Baghdad in the upcoming months, probably in October, and the meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council will take place in Baghdad during Erdoğan's visit, he said.