Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
Foreign Policy Influences Energy Strategies

Foreign Policy Influences Energy Strategies

I think a round-table addressing Turkey’s
energy strategy is a very important topic to be examining. Energy strategies,
for especially important large states like Turkey, are things that are
years, multiple year-long foreign policy endeavors, things like securing
natural gas supplies, especially, take decades to envision a grand strategy,
look at the geopolitical environment where supply is available from, where
commercial contracts are possible, where they’re not. And Turkey
has been the center of all of this. It’s geography, and its size, and its
location, and its status as a net importer, a large importer of energy.
Right next to large exporters of energy make Turkey an extremely fascinating case
to be examining. And it was a great event to see that everyone attending,
as well the fellow panelists. They had this specific topic about
Turkey’s energy strategies in mind. And the event remained focused on this.
And all of the questions and comments from my fellow panelists, I was
very impressed to see that we all remained on topic. We’re really able to
start to peel away the layers of the onion on a complicated issue that has
major ramifications in not just international markets, but also
the regional politics of the Middle East and geopolitics. Everyone’s
taken a much higher interest in Turkish-Russians relations, of course,
since the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey a few months ago. But the
issues between Russia and Turkey have been there for a long time.
Turkey gets some 58% of its natural gas from Russia, and it uses especially
natural gas more than any other resource to power its electric
grids, it’s power stations, which keep the economy running now.
Given the growth rate of Turkey’s economy and the growth rate of its natural gas
imports, consumption, there was never any real discussion either by Russia or
Turkey before or after the jet incident of reducing those imports. But Turkey would
like to secure a bit more flexibility in its supply by getting its increased
imports of natural gas from as many other sources as possible. Which is
why Turkish diplomats and businessmen are looking not
just at Azerbaijan, but at Iraq, especially Iraqi Kurdistan,
at the underwater fields in the Mediterranean
and any other source. And if they get extra supply of gas,
especially, then they can forward that onto markets in Europe. Which
makes them a key transit area for gas moving from Central Asia and
the Middle East region towards Europe, and also increases the security of Turkish
supply. So I think these are major issues that are very important to keep an eye on.
Well, I think if Turkey can successfully set itself up as a hub for energy,
especially gas going to Europe, then it will get a bigger say. That’s
simply how these things work. So I don’t think it matters which
political party would be in power in Ankara. Any of the four with seats
in the parliament right now would have the same national interest in mind
of trying to secure Turkey’s seat at the table for important discussions occurring
in Europe and internationally, globally. And part of the way to do that to increase
Turkey’s leverage, its importance, and secure its domestic energy supply as
well, is to pursue the pipeline politics, especially natural gas transit areas
from Central Asia and the Middle East. And this is precisely what Ankara
has been about since several years. There’s a possibility that they will work
more closely in business endeavors. There’s fairly independent business
interests both in Turkey and Iran, not to try to ignore whatever the politics
are. But at the same time, there’s significant tensions that occur,
especially with the civil war in Syria and their contrasting positions on that,
and also just by the very fact that Turkey and Iran are the big players in the
region, amongst the big players. You know, they’re both, along with Egypt,
have a population in the range of 80 million, but the Turkish and Iranian
economies are much more important than the Egyptian one. Saudi Arabia may have a
very….well, before the oil prices went so low, especially had a very healthy
income, but its population isn’t so big. Its manpower, its geographic location,
it really makes the most important players in the immediate region Turkey and Iran,
I think. The most powerful actors that have extra power to exert some
foreign policy push and pull. But that can make them competitors as
well, especially if they have slightly different ideological approaches to
relations with the West versus the East or the future of the Middle East Region.
So while their respective business elites can pursue a cooperation to their
mutual benefit and so forth, and their governments can cooperate
on basic things under Iran’s an energy exporter, Turkey is an importer,
there can be cooperation there. There’s also some ambivalence, some,
“Yes, we can work together, but there are limits. Let’s not get too locked in each
other’s embrace.” I don’t think we’re going to see that.

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