The call of the pipes: Putin in Turkey

The call of the pipes: Putin in Turkey

RIA Novosti
August 7, 2009 Friday 3:48 PM GMT+3

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) – Things
are now so mixed up in the pipe and gas business that it is difficult
to see where pipes begin and politics ends.

Vladimir Putin’s one-day visit to Ankara was balanced on precisely such
pipe and politics considerations. Plus the peaceful atom: Russia will
now be building for Turkey its first nuclear power plant near Akkuyu on
the Mediterranean coast.

To judge from the scale and trend of the documents signed, Ankara will
soon turn into a huge energy-handling hub between Russia and the
European Union in the southern sector. Now in the north we have Germany
and Nord Stream, and in the south, Turkey and South Stream. Two
friendships, Nordic and Ottoman.

Turkey has long been a regional heavyweight, and Porte’s added "gas
weight" will only strengthen it in this role. In recent years Ankara
has been increasingly urging Russia to join in a regional forum it
conceived for solving crucial Caucasian issues.

The Caucasus war greatly puzzled Ankara, which has close economic ties
both with Georgia and Russia. As a NATO country, Turkey "quietly"
supported Georgia, to which it sent its military instructors and is now
supplying equipment. But Turkey does not want to lose, let alone reduce
or weaken, its ties with Russia either, especially in the current hard
economic times. After all, Moscow satisfies 64% of Turkey’s
requirements in gas, and can deliver even more.

If that is not enough, let us bear in mind that more than one million
Russians visit Mediterranean Turkish resorts every year, leaving more
than $1.42 billion there. Moscow is Turkey’s top foreign economic
partner – last year Turkey’s trade with Russia totaled $38 billion. In
the next four years, Ankara hopes to bring the figure to $100 billion.
One should not mess about with such things.

By offering itself as a regional platform for settling Russia’s
"Caucasian problems," Ankara is perfectly aware that the Kremlin will
not conduct parleys with Mikheil Saakashvili.

But the Turks, offering their mediating services, very much hope to get
Russia’s help in an area where such help cannot be dispensed with: That
is a settlement in Nagorny Karabakh and normalization of relations with
Armenia. In its turn, this means the involvement of Azerbaijan, which
Turkey is also proposing to include, "on the kinship principle," in the
membership of the Caucasian regional forum. Unless the Nagorny Karabakh
issue is settled, Turkey will be unable to normalize its relations with

Turkey is being prodded in the same direction by the European Union, or
rather Turkey’s hope for admission to the EU (one of Brussels’
conditions is settlement of relations with Armenia), and its own
regional economic interests. But the way to a Turkish-Armenian
diplomatic thaw is blocked by Azerbaijan, which has long staked out its
claim: It will not welcome Turkish diplomatic overtures to Armenia as
long as the Nagorny Karabakh issue remains unsolved.

Only Russia, and this is something everyone realizes, can push Armenia
to a softer stance on Nagorny Karabakh. True, Russia will never nudge
Armenia to surrender all its interests in Nagorny Karabakh, implying
its return to Azerbaijan with broad autonomy rights. That is especially
true in the wake of recognizing Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s
independence. So, whether we like it or not, our friendship will only
thrive on gas, oil and the peaceful atom.

South Stream will make Russia and its customers less dependent on
transit countries, in particular, Ukraine, because Turkey will not be a
transit country technically. In 2013, the pipe will transport 63
billion cubic meters of gas. Investments in the project are estimated
at 25 billion euros. Contractors are Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI,
acting on a parity basis. In fact, South Stream’s inauguration ceremony
was an affair for three: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also
arrived for the occasion.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not
necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS