Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 30
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
The chances of reconciliation between Israel and Turkey are good, because it is in the strategic and economic interests of both countries to restore basic diplomatic relations, Matthew Bryza, former US assistant secretary for South Caucasus and former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, said.
He made the remarks in an interview with Natural Gas Europe website dedicated to news, analysis and opinion on European gas matters.
"Russia's recent belligerence toward Turkey and other NATO allies was the immediate catalyst of Israel and Turkey turning back toward each other," said Bryza, who is currently a board member at Turcas Petrol, one of Turkey's biggest energy companies.
"Thus, the test for Turkey and Israel will come when Turkey-Russia relations become less tense," he said.
Relations between Moscow and Ankara deteriorated greatly after the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber in Turkey's airspace Nov. 24.
After that, the Turkish media reported that Turkey and Israel will resume the relations. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu even confirmed the secret talks with Israel. Israeli prime minister announced the possibility of supplying the Israeli gas to Turkey and called it a factor that can "change the relations between the two countries."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Dec. 17 at an annual press conference in Moscow that Ankara committed a hostile act by shooting down the Su-24 bomber.
"Despite his harsh rhetoric, President Putin [of Russia] appears to be stepping back after a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian Su-24 inside Turkish airspace last month, as reflected in his new-found conciliatory attitude toward the international community with respect to Syria," Bryza said.
"So, the key question is whether Turkey will continue to seek reconciliation with Israel even when Russia calms down, and I believe the answer is yes."
Speaking about the possibility of gas supply from Israel to Turkey, Bryza said that is not critical in the short run, since there is no chance Russia will cut off gas flows to Turkey.
Israel's gas reserve amount to a total trillion cubic meters, according to various estimations. The Leviathan field accounts for as much as 620 billion cubic meters of this volume, 303 billion cubic meters - from the Tamar field and 58 billion cubic meters - from two smaller fields adjacent fields.
Bryza went on to add that over the next 4 to 6 years, on the other hand, Eastern Mediterranean gas can play an increasingly important role in Turkey's effort to diversify its supplies of natural gas away from a very expensive Russian supplier.
"In the near-term, I believe Turkish companies will be willing to buy 8 to 10 bcm [billion cubic meters] of Eastern Mediterranean natural gas for consumption within Turkey," he said.