“TURKISH STREAM” PROJECT AND THE INTERESTS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN EUROPEAN STATES

upa-admin 24 Nisan 2015 1.379 Okunma 0
“TURKISH STREAM” PROJECT AND THE INTERESTS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN EUROPEAN STATES

Russia’s “South Stream” gas pipeline project replacement by “Turkish Stream” had an impact on energy policy of importers by a number of countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Bulgaria was left out of the new project, the proposed pipeline states Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary are in complicated situation. On the one hand, it states Russia is the main gas supplier, on the other hand, the EU, the US and European countries put forward a strategy of diversification to reduce energy dependence on gas imports from Russia, especially after the crisis in Ukraine. It should be noted that the countries participating in “the Turkish Stream” pipeline are the main supporters of the project.

The entry point to Europe, Greece is of great importance to “the Turkish Stream” project. The Greek government declares support for the project of transporting Russian gas through the country. Panayiotis Lafazanis country’s energy minister during a visit to Moscow at the end of March declared that the official Athens is interested in stretching the pipeline from Greece to Europe. He said there is no alternative in terms of the price of Russian gas. Lafazanis called Europe to defend its interests, and stressed Russia and its gas policy isolation is contrary to the interests of Europe.

On April 8, after the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stated that transportation of gas through Greece to Europe via “Turkish Stream” will be beneficial for the country. Tsipras said consultations will be held with the EU concerning the pipeline that will transport Russian gas to Europe. Development of energy resources in the Greek government with participation of Russian companies was also discussed during the meeting of state heads.

Interestingly, a member of the ruling coalition government with Syriza, ANEL show different position. Hence, ANEL leader and Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos arrived in the US on March 30 expressing support and inclusion of the US companies in the energy exploration and production of oil and gas exploration and production in the region which is an important stabilizing role of the United States he said.

The support of official Athens in “Turkish Stream” project can be explained by overall dependence from Russian gas imports (65% of annual gas demand). On the other hand, a positive approach to the current TAP project can be associated with the state plans of creation country’s gas distribution center (hub). Thus, upgrade of LNG terminal in the country (Revithoussa LNG Terminal) , commencement of works for the construction of a gas pipeline to Bulgaria in the future, “the Turkish Stream” and the launch of TAP may allow Greece to achieve this goal.

Macedonia supports “Turkish Stream” as economically profitable project. Macedonia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Pesevski said his country was ready to be a transit country. However, he emphasized the importance of reconsidering the global situation. Dependent on gas imports in the gas delivered through TAP Macedonia previously demonstrated a willingness to have shares in this project. Russian expert Andrei Korbiko mentioned Macedonia as a key point country between “Turkey Stream” pipeline and the corridor projects between China and Greece and Ukraine In his view, put forward by Russia and China will contribute to the development of these projects in Macedonia. Korbiko stated that the current Prime Minister Nikola Gruyevskiy positively assessed the significance of these projects. According to him, the opposition party Social Democratic Union leader Zoran Zaev denies the importance of the projects under the influence of external forces.

Serbia supports “Turkish Stream” project. However, from the perspective of the country’s membership of the EU it is forced to adapt to the position of Brussels. Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said to avoid problems in the “South Stream” project, legal aspects of the project must be approved by Turkey, Russia, and the Brussels. Dacic stated that they will not sacrifice the citizens of Serbia for the geopolitical game between the West and Russia, and therefore all agreements must comply with the EU regulations on the project.

Hungary is dependent on Russia as a supplier of oil and gas products. About 80% of oil products used in the country and 70% of natural gas is imported from Russia. “Turkish stream” is supported by the current government in Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban said in looking for ways to join the project and the project has repeatedly stressed the importance for Europe as a whole. Orban presented the plan of pipeline through 4 countries to Vladimir Putin during his visit to Budapest at the end of February. It should be noted that the first meeting on energy security of Central and Southeastern Europe countries held in Budapest on April 7 was organized by the Hungarian government.

The meeting was attended by foreign ministers of Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Turkey’s EU minister Volkan Bozkir. During the meeting, the transportation of “Turkish Stream” to Austria via 4 countries and construction of pipelines were discussed. In addition, the states exchanged views on the connecting pipes between the countries. After the meeting, the ministers declared their readiness to participate in the construction of the pipeline. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjartp said the project will cost € 5 billion in each of the 5 countries . He said, Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina will also be invited for the next meeting scheduled in July. Turkish Minister Volkan Bozkir emphasized the crucial technical evaluation to show the importance of the project. The participants of the project also stressed importance of the project’s compliance with the rules of the EU.

Thus, countries mainly dependent on Russian gas supplies are interested in realization of the “Turkish stream” project. Russia’s maneuvers in terms of natural gas prices to several Central and South-Eastern European countries gives official Moscow means of informal opportunities. However, the EU’s energy strategy and the third energy package provisions the Union (EU gas imports, and each of diversification of bilateral energy agreements agreement with the Brussels request) means to gradually weaken Russia’s influence.

Transport pipeline from Greece to Austria can be problematic when in it comes to find investment in the Turkish Stream. Therefore, it is possible to experience delays in construction of the new pipeline to import gas from Russia. Yet, there is a possibility to obtain affordable loans from Russian financial institutions. However, we can also stress the possibility of Brussels attempts to divert the current process. On the other hand, Moscow can use Brussels’s interstate power interconnection tactics against it. It seems Russia’s plan to stretch the pipeline to Greece border is based on this tactic. Interestingly, the creation of parallel networks between European countries were discussed along with Turkish Stream” project during Budapest summit”.

Nurlan ALIYEV

Expert, political consultant, Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Sources

  1. “Greece buffers EU hardline on Russia’s Turkish Stream”, by Kostis Geropoulos, 01.04.2015, http://www.neurope.eu/article/greece-buffers-eu-hardline-russia%E2%80%99s-turkish-stream.
  2. “Tsipras-Putin talks yield pledge for better ties but no results”, April 8, 2015, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_08/04/2015_548963.
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  4. “Greece will have huge benefits from the construction of Russian natural gas pipeline”,09/ 04/ 2015, http://www.amna.gr/english/articleview.php?id=9152.
  5. “Deputy PM Pesevski: Macedonia Is Ready to Become a Gas Transit Country”, April 8, 2015, http://www.independent.mk/articles/16235/Deputy+PM+Pesevski+Macedonia+Is+Ready+to+Become+a+Gas+.
  6. “Macedonia Key Point in Turkish Stream”, March 11, 2015, http://www.independent.mk/articles/15213/Macedonia+Key+Point+in+Turkish+Stream#sthash.RDaOxBaF.dpuf.
  7. “Regional countries want to build Turkish Stream”, April 8, 2015, http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2015&mm=04&dd=08&nav_id=93737.
  8. “Hungarian rhapsody: Will Putin’s visit to Viktor Orban give Russia a way into Europe?”, February 17, 2015, http://rt.com/news/232631-putin-hungary-turkish-stream/.
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