Energy is one of the most essential elements that humans depend on to survive. It is indispensable for economic development. It is vital for heating, food production and manufacturing of goods.
Energy has also shaped nation states’ foreign policies for centuries. Since the 17th century, imperialist powers have been struggling to get their share of energy resources. Nations have been established and destroyed in the name of energy. The thinly-veiled agenda of all the important wars of the last few centuries has been energy.
When we analyse energy in the historical sense, we see coal becoming the basic source of energy during the Industrial Revolution.
During the Industrial Revolution, coal was the primary source of energy. The two important coalfields of Europe, the Ruhr region and the Alsace-Lorraine region, have always been places of conflicts. At the end of the 19th century, coal was replaced with oil and this transition shifted the centres of conflict to the oil zones.
Within 100 years, with natural gas and nuclear energy taking a share from oil, energy sources have become the centre of world wars.
Although Turkey meets its energy needs by means of import, it nonetheless retains special importance in the geographical sense, for it is located in the middle of where 70% of the world’s known oil and natural gas reserves exist.
Also, the Turkish economy is one of the largest energy consumers in the region with the highest energy demand among all the other OECD countries. It is a geographical bridge between the energy reserves and the EU, which annually consumes some $300bn worth of energy. The path of pipelines, which are the most economic and safest way to transport the needed sources of energy of the East to Europe, are located on Turkish lands.
Today there are many pipelines operating within Turkey’s borders. The Iraq-Turkey Crude Oil Pipeline delivers Northern Iraqi oil to the open seas of the world via the Port of Adana Ceyhan Yumurtalik. The 1,491km-long Iran-Turkey Natural Gas Pipeline, built by the partnership of the Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS), and the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) delivers natural gas to Eastern and Central Anatolia.
With the recent deal made between BOTAS and Russia’s Gazexport, the 1,200km-long Blue Stream Trans-Black Sea gas pipeline carries Russian natural gas from Russia to Turkey. Within the framework of the expansion plan, the name of the line was later changed to “South Stream”.
With the Interconnector Turkey-Greece (ITG) System – built within the scope of the EU INOGATE (Interstate Oil and Gas Transport to Europe) Programme – gas started to be transported from Turkey to Greece by the year 2007.
Meanwhile there are many other active pipelines which have not been referred to here operating over Eastern Anatolia.
Currently, there are many gas pipelines under construction in the region. Perhaps the most important of these pipelines is TANAP (the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project), a 7bn investment, which is a joint project of BOTAS and TPAO of Turkey and SOCAR of Azerbaijan. Once completed in 2020, 10bn cubic metres of 16bn cubic metres of natural gas will be transmitted to Bulgaria and Greece.
The TANAP line will be connected to Europe via Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) by means of the agreement signed between the Azerbaijan State Oil Company and BP (British Petroleum). With this line, the Azerbaijani-Turkish energy alliance will be a credible energy partner for Europe.
The Turkish-Russian rapprochement following the July 15th coup attempt has been instrumental in speeding up the Turkish Stream project, which will enable Russia to transmit its gas to Europe via Turkey instead of through Ukraine.
During his state visit to Turkey, President Putin stated that their aim is to render the Turkish lands an energy delivery hub. Over the Turkish Stream line, which is one of the greatest projects of recent years, with its 63bn cubic metres capacity, 50bn cubic metres of gas will be delivered to Europe.
The Russian-Turkish rapprochement also energised the Gulf States. Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, declared its plans for a refinery investment in Turkey and signed a preliminary deal with 15 Turkish construction firms.
Saudi Arabia wants to participate in this energy partnership not only for economic but also for political reasons and has recently expressed its desire for an alliance with Turkey quite clearly.
These energy projects are extremely important and concrete steps for the establishment of good relations among the countries in the region and for securing peace.
These projects, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, will draw the countries of the region closer to one another, establish firmer bonds between them and contribute greatly to the stability of the region.
With the examples of the pipelines referred to above, Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are being connected to one another in the long term. For these lines to be productive, it is imperative to establish peace in those countries located on the route.
It is certainly not unheard of that the alliances that commence with economic ambitions will also prosper in the political and diplomatic sense. For instance, the EU political alliance has its roots in the European Coal and Steel Community. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the world suffered greatly from energy wars.
Imperialism has brought nothing but conflicts and war to the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The nations of the region could not resist the ferocious interventions by themselves and simply gave in. Likewise today, external threats linger; for this reason, these nations can only resist those threats by establishing strong alliances.
We hope that these energy agreements lay the groundwork for these strong alliances, as the ultimate goal is the all-embracing alliances focused on humanitarian values and meant to bring peace, ease, security, stability and prosperity for future generations.
We hope that the centres of energy that were administered in line with some particular interests and thus brought about wars, persecution and death become the basis of peace and ease.
What is expected of leaders today are the kind of alliances built upon peace, friendship, compassion and loyalty. This is the hope and expectation of thousands of oppressed people losing their lives on a daily basis.