By Micha’el Tanchum
December 20, 2018
On November 19, 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a joint ceremony in Istanbul to mark the completion of the offshore segment of Turkstream, the undersea pipeline that will transport Russian natural gas to Turkey via the Black Sea. Turkstream's now inevitable realization forms a stunning reversal of Turkish energy policy. For more than half a decade, Turkey had focused on reducing its dependency on Russian gas, primarily through the construction of a new pipeline across the length of Turkey to bring gas from Azerbaijan. With Turkey tethered more than ever to Russian gas imports, Moscow appears triumphant. However, Turkey's 'Back to the Future' energy policy belies Ankara's larger strategic gambit to bolster Turkey's international position by becoming a major energy hub.
By M. K. Kaya (vol. 2, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
As Turkey has become estranged from its Western allies, especially as a result of having being cold-shouldered by the European Union, the country has come to develop closer relations with Russia, a historical rival. During the recent the visit of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin to Turkey, the two countries signed cooperation protocols in several fields, mostly regarding energy issues. The visit saw progress in advancing regional energy projects that benefit both countries, Turkey obtaining Russian support for its Samsun-Ceyhan oil project and Russia obtaining Turkish agreement for its South Stream gas project. The burgeoning relationship should nevertheless not be seen as an attempt by Ankara to distance itself from the West, but as a Russian move to fill the vacuum left by American and European neglect of Turkey.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.