Transfer of Caspian Sea gas to Italy is another dimension of gas cooperation between Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Europe, given that currently Ankara and Baku have become actors that meet part of the gas needs of the European market in the field of energy. In cooperation with Ankara and Baku, it is possible to transfer gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea to the Republic of Azerbaijan’s shores to Europe. Ankara hailed the transfer of Azerbaijani gas to Italy as the beginning of a new chapter in Turkey’s role in securing energy supplies to continental Europe. The transfer, which began via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, consists of three sections (the South Caucasus Pipeline, the Trans Anatolian Pipeline, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline). The 878-kilometer trans-Adriatic gas pipeline runs through Greece, Albania, and the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy.
Blue arteries and gas arteries
The Tigris and Euphrates enter Syria and Iraq from Turkey as two important arteries of Mesopotamia’s vast geographical area. These two rivers have played an essential role in the history of developments and civilization in the region. Turkey now enjoys a vital advantage over the two countries, Iraq and Syria, in the name of water. Although Turkey’s policy and approach to dam construction have been challenged by Baghdad and Damascus, at least in the case of Iraq, it can be said that there is coordination and joint water management between Turkey and Iraq. In addition to the Tigris and Euphrates, Turkey is trying to score points with the gas artery and better use its geographical advantages. Therefore, it can be said that at present, the two pipelines of Tanap and Turk Stream are the main gas arteries of Turkey to Europe and play an irreplaceable role in the present and future of Turkey. The TANAP (Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline) is of vital importance to Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan. This critical factor plays a crucial role in Turkey’s future relations, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia. TANAP is located in the heart of Turkey and among the 20 provinces of Turkey. Although the price of natural gas in Turkey is still very high, it has created enormous profits for the government and the private sector in the industrial sector. The Turk Stream pipeline is a strategic transmission line that delivers Russian gas from the Black Sea depths to Turkey and Europe. The channel, which was inaugurated on January 8, 2020, in Turkish and Russian presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, is now one year old. The pipeline transports Russian gas via the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Greece, northern Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey. As one of the world’s largest consumers of natural gas, which has sought to reduce its dependence on Moscow in recent years, Europe will now reduce its reliance on Russia for natural gas through joint action by Ankara and Baku. Therefore, Turkey should manage the balance in terms of creating interests to keep Russia satisfied. In addition to the Turk Stream line, Russia has long had a southern crossing line. The export of Russian gas to the European market is not limited to passing through Turkish territory.
Energy and diplomacy
On average, about $ 50 billion of Turkey’s revenue is spent on fuel imports each year. Its dependence on oil and gas is both an obstacle to development and a reason for rising production costs and even rising living costs. As Turkish citizens pour the world’s most expensive gasoline into a car tank, a Turkish farmer buys the world’s most expensive diesel, and in Turkish homes, consuming gas and electricity costs families dearly. However currently, energy diplomacy has become a politically and economically sensitive area for Turkey. Evidence shows that the Turkish Foreign Ministry is working hard to pave the way for energy transfers and exports. In addition, not only in gas but also in the field of electricity, the effort to transfer and export has found a more significant meaning, and some energy traders in the Turkish private sector are looking to create opportunities for electricity exports to Europe. They believe that Turkey can earn more by exporting electricity to Iraq and the Kurdish region and exporting electricity to Europe via Bulgaria.
Therefore, with the transfer of gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea to Italy, Turkey is playing a new role in ensuring energy security to the European continent, which to achieve success in the field of energy transmission and export, which requires more diplomatic interaction with countries in the region and the world. Besides, the common interests created between Russia, Turkey, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Georgia will influence an essential part of Turkey’s goals and behavior.
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About the author:
Amin BAGHERI is an Iranian research fellow at the International Studies Association in Tehran, Iran. His primary research interest lies in international relations, political science, and conflicts in the Middle East. You can see more of his work on Twitter @bghr_amin.