Baku, Azerbaijan, June 30
By Aygun Badalova – Trend:
Turkey and Russia could resume negotiations on the Turkish Stream project, and Ankara may use the Trans Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) as a bargaining chip to strengthen the country's position at the bargaining table with Gazprom, says Bruce Pannier, US expert on Central Asia and energy issues.
“It seems Moscow, and more importantly Gazprom, never forgot about Turkish Stream,” Panier told Trend June 30.
“Just since news of Erdogan’s message to Putin, I see many Russian officials talking about Turkish Stream. Of course, they could soon resume negotiations on the project. There were some significant differences of opinion between Russian and Turkish officials before the Russian plane was shot down,” he said.
On June 27, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin expressing deep regret for the Su-24 bomber incident and extending condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who was killed in the incident.
The incident earlier led to a crisis in relations between two countries.
In his letter Erdogan also noted that Russia is Turkey’s friend and strategic partner, and the Turkish authorities do not want to ruin relations between the two countries.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian president, assessed the letter as an important step towards normalization of relations with Turkey. On June 29, the presidents of two countries held a phone talk and agreed on a private meeting.
As for the Turkish Stream, which is meant to take the Russian gas to Turkey across the Black Sea, Peskov said June 30 that it is too early to discuss the resumption of the project.
“For now, it is probably premature to speak about it,” Peskov told reporters. “You know there are various letters of intent signed by Gazprom in Italy a few months ago. Various other routes are being discussed. It is too early to say which routes will be specified and enter the implementation stage.”
Talking about Turkey’s interest in the Russia-proposed project, Bruce Pannier said Ankara could certainly use the extra gas.
“However, Ankara will soon be getting some gas from the TANAP with the promise that volumes, including for Turkish consumption, will increase from that pipeline in the years to come,” he said.
“Again, Turkey could use the gas, but with TANAP due to come on line in 2018, I think Ankara will want to prolong discussions with Russia on Turkish Stream until Turkey starts receiving gas from TANAP. It would strengthen Turkey’s position at the bargaining table with Gazprom,” Pannier believes.
Overall, Pannier believes that Turkish president’s letter to his Russian counterpart was a big step towards improving relations between two countries.
“It seemed like Russia was waiting for such a gesture, so that it could bring relations with Turkey back to what they were prior to the downing of the Russian military plane,” said Pannier.
“With Russian troops in Syria, Moscow benefits from, if not good ties with Turkey, at least some sort of working relationship,” he added.