Turkey will be an energy hub, Putin says

European partners view Turkey as a bridge to gas reserves in Azerbaijan.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Oct. 11, 2016 at 6:03 AM
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Turkey will become a major energy hub for the European market with assistance from the Russian government, President Vladimir Putin said.

Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a special session of the 23rd World Energy Congress. Alongside geopolitical issues related to the civil war in Syria, where both sides have varying allegiances, the two leaders discussed new life for the Turkish Stream pipeline, a revision to a much larger project meant to carry Russian natural gas to Europe.

Turkey's geographic position makes it desirable as a bridge to transport energy resources from Central Asian suppliers to the European market.

"Please note that we are moving towards the implementation of the Turkish president's plans to establish a large energy hub in the country," Putin said during joint statements with the press.

Turkish Stream, which mirrors the route for the now-abandoned South Stream project, would run under the Black Sea to Turkey and then to the European market. South Stream was scrapped because of concerns about Russian business practices expressed by some European countries.

Putin said during the signing ceremony that advanced Turkish Stream that Ankara would get an unspecified discount for natural gas. Erdogan, for his part, said the agreement meant the project would be accelerated.

The project's forward momentum was thwarted several times because of simmering acrimony between both countries. Turkey is a member of NATO and Russia's stance on the conflict in Syria has at times been at odds with the Western military alliance.

Turkey is also slated to host pipeline networks from Azerbaijan that are meant to break the Russian grip on the European energy sector are planned through Turkey.

Russian energy company Gazprom in the past has shut off gas through Ukraine, its traditional gas host, because of disputes over contracts and debt. That left European nations in the cold and both Europe and Russia are looking to advance new routes that avoid geopolitical tensions.

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