News / Middle East

    Turkey Seeks Energy from Azerbaijan

    Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Ankara, Jan. 28, 2016.
    Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Ankara, Jan. 28, 2016.
    Dorian Jones

    With Russian-Turkish relations remaining sour after Turkey downed a Russian bomber, Ankara is looking to Azerbaijan and Central Asia for support in helping to ease its dependency on Russian energy.

    The first country Turkish Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoglu visited after the November downing was neighbor Azerbaijan. Turkey depends on Russia for over half its natural gas and reducing that dependency is a priority. Ankara often describes its relationship with energy-rich Azerbaijan as “two nations, one people.” It is an obvious choice, says Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Institute in Brussels.

    "Azerbaijan, being one of the most promising countries that can supply — if need be — natural gas, would allow Turkey to decrease its dependence on Russia," Ulgen said. "But there would be certainly sensitivity in Baku in trying not to be too confrontational with Russia. Russia is a major player and has influence on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

    Observers point out tensions have recently heightened between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan. Ankara is also looking for support from energy-rich Central Asian states which share ethnic ties with Turkey.

    Turkey’s ruling AK party, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has invested political and financial capital in the region. Despite such efforts, political columnist Semih Idiz of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper says Ankara is struggling to find support.

    "I don't think Turkey has automatic backing of these countries. You see, the Central Asia republics plus Azerbaijan are put in a very delicate situation in this fight between Turkey and Russia, because they are heavily dependent on Russia politically; they are all part of Russia’s defense union that Moscow has, and they have dealings with Russia that they cannot overlook," said Idiz. "So you will notice, since the Russian jet crisis, these republics have not been extremely vocal."

    In December, Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev called on Ankara to apologize to Moscow for the downing of the Russian aircraft by Turkish jets.  Atambayev had in the past referred to his Turkish counterpart as my “old brother.” Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish president ’s spokesman, described the apology call as unfortunate.

    Observers say Moscow is giving Ankara a hard lesson in real-politik when it comes to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 08, 2016 9:10 PM
    Diplomacy is one thing but money is money. Europe, now Turkey are looking for alternative sources of energy to Russia which dominated the market for so long. And there is so much energy available in the current glut there will be plenty of ways and places to get it from. As cheap as oil and gas have become, it could get even cheaper as competition steepens. One more blow to Russia's ailing economy would be insufficient customers to buy what it can deliver. How long will Putin remain so popular with Russians? Until the standard of living for average Russians drops to where it is no longer acceptable. Personal comfort will trump nationalism in the end.

    by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
    February 01, 2016 8:23 AM
    Turkey could draw upon close sources of natural gas if I am correct to believe that much of the onshore of Italy is rich in natural gas deposits and that the Sicily onshore has rich oil deposits.
    In Response

    by: mhlf from: türkiye
    February 27, 2016 11:12 AM
    ıtaly is more dangerous than russia for turkey due to stance of ıtaly for pkk...

    by: Val
    January 31, 2016 2:16 PM
    Did you notice that Dorian perennially and exclusively talks to Idiz and Ulgen? Does VOA care?

    by: Sarxan Aghayev
    January 30, 2016 4:33 AM
    I am sure that Azerbaijan and Turkey will support each other
    In Response

    by: Huseyin from: Baku
    February 10, 2016 3:28 AM
    One nation, two government is our slogan/ We are also TURKISH. We shal always be with TURKIYE, They are our blood brothers. But Russia and America helps kursd.Why? If Turkiye is the member of NATO, why should America help Kurds? America should support Turkiye and Turkmens in Kerkuk, who is also Azerbaijanian Turkish people. In Suriya and Yemen, in Iran (Tabriz) also Live Azerbaijanian Turks. and who is kurd? They are just gipsies, living in every country. America should not carry two faced( hipocratical) policy. With this policy we understand that, America doesn't like Turkiye, does't want that Turkish government have influence in th Middle East. Don't carry policy like Putin.

    by: Bayulken from: Texas USA
    January 29, 2016 8:04 PM
    Great idea... Here is the first phase of the TCP second phase should be adding TURKMEN and KAZAK natural gas and oil pipeline...then Europe will feel better Turks will be happy KAZAKHS and Turkmens and Azerbaijani's will have SAFE SECURE PASSAGE for their product and CASH their economy. GEOGIANS will have a great income due to transit pipeline ex Azerbaijan to Turkey.. Great IDEA.. However this Idea was the IDEA - called TRANS CASPIAN PIPELINE..I personally have worked on it ... in 1998-1999-and 2000 until Russians, Iranians, & Shell- Azerbaijan stuck a stick to the turning wheel..

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