Turkey and Russia to study Putin’s gas hub proposal

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey and Russia have instructed their respective energy authorities to immediately begin technical work on a Russian proposal that would make Turkey a gas hub for the economy. ‘Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has floated the idea of ​​exporting more gas through the TurkStream gas pipeline under the Black Sea to Turkey after gas deliveries to Germany through the Baltic Sea Nord Stream gas pipeline stopped.

Erdogan said Russian and Turkish energy authorities would work together to designate the best location for a gas distribution center, adding that Turkey’s Thrace region, bordering Greece and Bulgaria, seemed like the best place.

“Together with Mr. Putin, we asked our Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the relevant institution on the Russian side to work together,” Erdogan said. “They will conduct this study. Wherever is the most suitable location, we hope to establish this distribution center there. »

“There will be no waiting,” Erdogan said in his first statement on the Russian proposal.

The Turkish leader made the comments on Thursday after returning from a regional summit in Kazakhstan where he met Putin. His words were reported by Hurriyet newspaper and other media.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Putin offered to ship gas to European countries that wanted it via Turkey because he no longer considered Nord Stream 1 and 2 to be “reliable” conduits.

The minister, however, said that the Russian proposal must “be well studied”.

“There are investments that need to be made, they need to be looked at,” he told a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart. “It’s a matter of supply and demand. How much of Europe…is ready to buy gas from such a project? It has to be worked together.

Cavusoglu added that Turkey wanted to ease Europe’s energy crisis.

“The weakening of Europe in all its aspects is not in Turkey’s interest. On the contrary, it is against (Turkey’s interests),” Cavusoglu said.

Turkey has long aspired to become an energy hub.

Energy analysts, however, have cast doubt on the likelihood of the proposal to ship gas to Europe via Turkey taking off, with EU leaders criticizing Russia’s reliability as an energy supplier and calling the cuts of natural gas from Russia of a political attempt to divide them on their support. for Ukraine.

Germany this week rejected another Putin proposal to increase gas flows to Europe via a link of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea – a pipeline that has never been operational. Moscow cut the parallel Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline due to technical problems.

Asked to comment on a claim by Putin that Russia foiled an attack on the TurkStream gas pipeline, Erdogan said Turkey was taking all necessary steps to secure the pipeline.

NATO member Turkey, which depends on Russia for its energy needs and tourism, has criticized Moscow’s actions in Ukraine but has not signed on to US and EU sanctions against Russia.

He maintained his close ties with Moscow and Kyiv and positioned himself as a mediator between the two. Ankara recently helped broker key deals that allowed Ukraine to resume grain exports and led to a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia.

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