BAKU: Turkey May Reconsider Its Gas Pipeline Policy: Senior Expert A


Oct 19 2009

Renowned American expert on Eurasia, an expert on foreign policy,
security and international relations and head of Russian-Eurasian
programs at the Heritage Foundation, Ariel Cohen, spoke to Day.Az in
an interview.

Day.Az: How could you comment on the fact that Azerbaijan, tired of
waiting for Turkey’s constructive approach in negotiations on gas
exports, began to consider alternative oil transportation routes?

Ariel Cohen: It is a clear signal that Azerbaijan will be prepared
to develop relations with Russia’s Gazprom. I admit possibility of
Azerbaijan’s participation in the "South Stream" project which could
lead the Nabucco project to wither away. This, of course, will be
negatively perceived in the United States which relies on Nabucco.

Another possibility is Azerbaijan’s participation in the "White
Stream" project which will run via Georgia, Black Sea and onwards to
the Eastern Europe. But there will be a great discontent by Russia.

Q: What are your views about this process?

A: This is a strong signal to Ankara which needs to be interpreted on
the backdrop of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement and Turkey’s policy
to move away from cooperation with Western powers, including Israel.

I think the Turkish leadership moves away from domestic and foreign
policy, which were founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and which were
a basis for the secular Turkish Republic. If this policy does not
meet a rebuff within Turkey, such a dangerous policy from circles
with secular and pro-Western orientation could lead to instability
and tension in the South Caucasus and across the area ranging from
the Iranian-Turkish border to the eastern Mediterranean.

Q: How do you see Turkey’s future policy?

A: If Turkey is seriously keen to continue and develop fraternal
relations with Azerbaijan, it may reconsider its gas pipeline policy
and take a serious return to the negotiating table. If, on the other
hand, Turkey continues to focus on Russian and Iranian gas, it cannot
only lead to a deterioration of Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, but
also to a deterioration of U.S.-Turkish relations, because the United
States still considers Turkey a reliable ally, and relies on Iraqi,
Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas and the Nabucco project. Evolution of
Turkey as U.S. ally – both geopolitical and valuable – causes serious
questions both in Baku and in Washington.

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