Turkey Energy Min Says Near End Of Azeri Gas Talks

By Orhan Coskun

Forex Pros
terview-turkey-energy-min-says-near-end-of-azeri-g as-talks-117463
Feb 3 2010

* Turkey doesn’t see Armenian factor spoiling Azeri gas deal * Turkey
not worried over Nabucco pipeline demand, supply

ANKARA, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Turkey expects to conclude talks shortly
with Azerbaijan over the price of gas imports, Turkish Energy Minister
Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday, adding he did not see Turkey’s peace
efforts with Azerbaijan’s old foe, Armenia, holding back a deal.

Should the long-running negotiations end in failure it would complicate
attempts to secure gas supplies for the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline

Nabucco is meant to reduce European dependence on gas from Russia,
which currently supplies about a quarter of the continent’s needs.

Analysts have feared that protocols signed by Turkey and Armenia
late last year to open their common border could make Azerbaijan less
willing to sell gas to Turkey.

Yildiz told Reuters he didn’t see this impacting negotiations, and
he expected an agreement on price soon.

"I am convinced that political issues, such as Armenia, will not
hinder a conclusion with our brother country Azerbaijan," Yildiz said
in an interview.

Azerbaijan has warned that it could find other buyers for its gas if
Turkey did not improve its terms.

Russia has courted Azerbaijan for gas supplies that could help provide
throughput for its South Stream pipeline, which also aims to feed
European markets.


Azerbaijan and Turkey are fellow Muslim countries and traditional
allies, who share a history of enmity with Christian Armenia. Turkey
has sided with Azerbaijan in a territorial dispute with Armenia over
the Nagorno-Karabakh mountain region.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with
Azerbaijan, after ethnic Armenian rebels threw off Azeri rule in
Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory Azerbaijan still claims as its own.

While the Turkish-Armenia border agreements appear to have little
chance of going into effect soon, Azerbaijan is worried by the thaw
between its friend and its enemy.

Turkey has tried to calm Azeri fears by demanding that ethnic Armenian
forces pull back from the frontlines as a condition of the peace deal.

Yildiz said Turkey would do what is necessary to support the $7.9
billion Nabucco project, and expressed conficence that supplies for
the pipeline would be sewn up.

"I’m not worried about supply or demand for the Nabucco pipeline
… I don’t see a risk to the construction of the line," he said.

An executive of Austria’s OMV, one of the partners in Nabucco, said
last month that the pipeline would not be built if demand was too low.

Besides OMV and Turkey, Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz, Germany’s RWE , Hungary’s
MOL and Romania’s Transgaz are partners in the project.

(Writing by Thomas Grove, Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)