Nabucco pipeline’s construction will cause EU, Turkey’s positions to approach

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 26 / Trend , B,Hasanov /

The European Union will have to reckon with Turkey's interests while implementing Nabucco gas pipeline project which aims to increase European energy security and diversify energy supply routes.

"If the EU wants to build Nabucco gas pipeline, it needs to solve Turkey's energy security and political disagreements with this country," director of Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and European expert on Turkey Svante Cornell said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Stokholm.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during his visit to Brussels that if the EU does not debate energy issues with Turkey during talks, Turkey will re-consider its position on Nabucco, Turkish media reported.

Turkey-EU cooperation began with the Ankara agreement signed in 1964. The EU announced that Copenhagen criteria set in 2002 are key to Turkey's EU membership. Turkey carried out large judicial and political reforms under the criteria. 

Official talks on Turkey's EU admission began in 2005. The EU has agreed to discuss 10 of 35 items with Turkey thus far. The sides can not still discuss energy issues due to obstacles by the Republic of Cyprus (Greek). One of the key topics of energy discussions is easing solution of technical and judicial issues on implementation of Nabucco project.

The Turkish expert Hasan Salim Ozertem says Turkey, one of the major sides in realization of Nabucco, seeks to eliminate obstacles created by the Republic of Cyprus (Greek) by using its position in talks with the EU.

"The statement made by the Prime Minister shows that the obstacles for Turkey's EU admission are serious," researcher at CenterforStrategic Studies USAK Ozertem said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Ankara.

Cornell said Turkey's position can hinder construction of Nabucco gas pipeline. Europe should take into consideration importance of Turkey's position and attach due attention to Ankara's interests.

"Moscow will reduce gas supply to Turkey as soon as the country, who depends on Russian gas, will act as transit country for Nabucco. Turkey will face serious problems. There is a need for a solution which will enable Turkey to become transit country and to ensure its energy security at the same time," Cornell said.

In 2009 Turkey will import 49.94 billion cubic metres of gas from different countries, the Turkish BOTAS company said. 56 percent of Turkey's import accounts for Russian gas. Turkey will buy 28 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia, 6.6 billion cubic metres -from Azerbaijan, 4,444 billion cubic metres - from Algeria, 1,338 billion cubic metres - from Nigeria and 9,556 billion cubic metres - from Iran.

Former Turkish diplomat and director of the EDAM Study Centre Sinan Ulgen said that Erdogan's statement with respect to the Nabucco project did not reflect Turkey's real position. This was proved by PM's next statement that "we are not against Nabucco". There is a strong connection between submission of energy issues to EU for discussions with Turkey and implementation of the Nabucco gas pipeline project.

"Discussions on energy issues will enable to remove problems between the sides with respect to Nabucco," Ulgen told Trend via e-mail from Istanbul. The Nabucco project worth $12.4 billion will deliver Azerbaijani and Central Asian gas to the EU. Construction of the pipeline is expected to commence in 2010. Its maximum capacity will be 31 billion cubic meters per year. 

Nabucco shareholders are the Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Bulgarian Bulgargaz, Romanian Transgaz, Turkish Botas and German RWE with 16.7 percent each.

A summit dedicated to prospects of the Nabucco project will be held on the basis of Czech's proposal that preside the EU in 2009. The summit will be attended by representatives of countries-shareholders, delegations from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iraq and Egypt, and Georgia, as a transit country.

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