Turkish Stream less and less topical for Ankara
Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 3
By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:
Ankara and Moscow, despite having political differences mainly over the Syrian crisis and the political situation in Ukraine, are major economic partners.
According to the Turkish Statistics Institute, the imports from Russia to Turkey in 2014 totalled $25.289 billion, while the exports from Turkey to Russia during the same period were $5.9 billion.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during last year's meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Ankara, said the two countries intend to bring their bilateral trade to $100 billion in five years.
Aside from that, Turkey has interests in increasing the number of Russian tourists coming to the country.
Earlier, Turkey's economy minister, Nihat Zeybekci said the country would do everything possible to increase the number of Russian tourists in 2015. He added that the deterioration of relations of several European countries with Russia is a chance to attract Russian tourists to Turkey.
Among the most important energy projects, implemented between the two countries, is the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant Akkuyu, to be completed in 2022.
Moscow intends to implement the project for construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline that it regards as an important energy project. The more Russia aspires to implement the Turkish Stream project, the more disagreements this project causes in Turkey.
The main reason for these disagreements is Russia's demand from Turkey to make additional concessions on construction of the Turkish Stream. The media didn't specify what kind of concession, but this led Turkish BOTAS to refuse to sign the agreement on discount of gas supplied to Turkey from Russia.
A source at BOTAS told Trend that earlier, no additional concessions for construction of the Turkish Stream were stipulated in the negotiations between the two sides.
Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz told media on March 18 that the sides will sign a gas discount agreement in coming days. However, this agreement hasn't been signed yet.
Today, Yildiz said that the discount for the gas supplied from Russia to Turkey is important for Ankara. However, the minister didn't specify whether the sides have signed the relevant agreement. This suggests that the Turkish Stream has become a kind of a stumbling block in the economic relations between the two sides.
It is possible that if the parties do not agree, Ankara, which is still not in a hurry to solve this problem, may apply to the arbitration court in the future.
It is more important for Ankara to win the discount for gas deliveries from Russia, rather than to make concessions in the project, which is more political in nature and the implementation of which is questionable.
If earlier it was believed that the Turkish Stream could become an alternative to the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project, now there is no doubt left that the Russian project cannot compete with TANAP.
Additionly, the Turkish company Botas will take part in the construction of TANAP, which is in the interests of Turkey and the company itself, but is now completely isolated from the construction of the Turkish Stream.
The recent disagreements between Ankara and Moscow on the Turkish Stream project and the importance of TANAP for Turkey give reason to affirm that the Russian project is losing its relevance for Ankara faster and faster.
Edited by CN
Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency's Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu