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Turkey a vital energy partner, EU says

Both sides meet to discuss trajectory of bilateral affairs through 2016.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Jan. 25, 2016 at 6:48 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Turkey is a fundamental partner in the drive to ensure the European energy sector is well supplied and free from dominance, the European Commission said.

Members of the European Commission met in Ankara to discuss shared strategic and economic agendas moving into 2016.

"Energy is a topic of key interest in EU-Turkey relations," the commission said. "Turkey stands out as a crucial partner for EU's energy security and energy diversification."

Turkey holds a key geopolitical position between key producers in the Middle East and Central Asia, and Europe.

Europe is looking to Azerbaijan as a source of diversity for an energy market dominated by Russian natural gas supplier Gazprom. The Trans-Adriatic pipeline will start delivering gas from the Shah Deniz gas project offshore Azerbaijan in 2019. TAP would connect to the Trans-Anatolian natural gas project running through Turkey to the Greek border.

Gazprom, meanwhile, had proposed the so-called Turkish Stream gas pipeline as an alternative to a broader South Stream pipeline network meant to feed European markets. Gazprom last year , however, said talks were suspended as bilateral ties between Moscow and Ankara soured.

Russian military intervention in Syria frustrated the Turkish government and its allies in the NATO alliance and the October downing of a Russian military jet in Turkish airspace was met with measured anger by the Kremlin.

Turkey, for its part, aims for closer ties to Europe.

"Accession negotiations remain the cornerstone of EU-Turkey relations," both sides said in a joint statement.

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