Turkish stream: a friend of my enemy is my friend?

No one has the right to tell Turkey, with whom and which projects to implement and what foreign policy to conduct. However, instead of peace and prosperity, which they say the initiators of the project “Turkish stream” will become an additional destabilizing factor with long-term negative consequences for the entire black sea region, the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe.

23 Jun Vladimir Putin, while on Board the massive vessel Pioneering Spirit of the Swiss company Allseas Group, announced the beginning of construction of the underwater part of the pipeline “Turkish stream”. The ceremony of “running the pipe” was, of course, carefully prepared and shown on television in the best traditions of the stage show with the participation of the Russian President. Putin, in the presence of the head of Gazprom Miller pressed a button and said, “Go!”. Then straight from the ship he called up his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spoke for about fifteen minutes. At the other end of the phone line all the same Russian television showed Erdogan sitting in a leather armchair at the airport of Kayseri. At the end of the conversation, he twice said “thank you” in Russian. Putin’s Turkish was, apparently, not so good, and he doesn’t answer.

Everything that happens could be considered the next draft of the information war of the Kremlin against common sense, if not for the elements of the transcripts of the conversation, later published on the official web page of the Turkish President.

“I salute you, my dear friend, and all those present at the ceremony, and those who worked on the implementation of this historic project, Erdogan said. — These projects occupy a special place in our political and economic relations, since they create interdependence and serve as their insurance. Energy projects between the two countries, especially concerning the supply of natural gas has been an important and reliable part of the security of energy supplies for almost 30 years. Russia, with its vast natural gas resources and strong infrastructure is a major energy player in the region. The Russian Federation is a reliable and stable partner of our country in the energy sector. We are determined to continue to develop our partnership and strengthen our friendship. Our friendship will be strengthened even more with the implementation of such large projects as nuclear power plant Akkuyu and the Turkish stream, which we hope will be completed in the near future.”

“I want to emphasize, my dear friend, that you have made a huge contribution to this project — continued the Turkish President. — “Turkish stream” will ensure that the Russian natural gas supplied to Turkey at the moment via the Western route and Blue stream, will come to Turkey without dependence on transit through the pipelines of any other country. “Turkish stream” is a wonderful symbol of our mutually beneficial approach, and our foreign policy, which assumes that energy should be a uniting instrument of peace and not a source of conflict in international relations. My dear friend, we have one thing in common, a feature. We are leaders who love to raise the bar, because we believe that our countries, our peoples and our common geography deserve more. We will carry out a more large and comprehensive projects together in the near future. I thank everyone who put their efforts in this process. I hope that the project “Turkish stream” and our initiatives in this area will yield positive results for our countries and region”.

The Western route mentioned by President Erdogan, is a pipeline that passes through Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria and which annually transports up to 16 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey, in Istanbul. In fact, through this pipeline supplied with gas, a huge metropolis of over 20 million people and a vast industrial zone around it. Gas supplies along this route never, except during the “gas war” of 2008-2009 unleashed by Russia, did not give reason to doubt his reliability. Moreover, given that this route of gas transportation is part of the Ukrainian gas transportation system (GTS), cold in the winter of 2010-2011 Ukraine at the request of Turkey has supplied additional volumes of gas when Gazprom refused to do so. If you run even a single thread “Turkish stream” such a possibility will be excluded.

What are the “positive results” referred to the Turkish President, expecting the region in the event of launch of “Turkish stream”?

First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of Turkey will be deprived of payments for the transit 16 billion cubic meters of gas, although the price of gas that will be supplied to Turkey via a new route definitely will not be lower than the current one, as Gazprom’s investment of $ 9 billion is necessary as-that “to beat off”.

Second, there can be problems with gas supplies to Bulgaria via Western route due to the lack of process gas. Thirdly, Turkey will become, as never before, dependent on the whims of Gazprom and the Kremlin to directly control the supply of gas in the Western part of the country through the “Turkish stream”, which in the East through the “Blue stream”. Additional supplies of 6 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas through the pipeline TANAP, which is expected since 2019, only slightly relieve the tension, and other alternative sources of Russian gas in the foreseeable future is not expected.

Needless to say, no one has the right to tell Turkey, with whom and which projects to implement and what foreign policy to conduct. The inviolable sovereign right of the Turkish Republic to choose their friends and partners. However, instead of peace and prosperity, referred to by the President of Turkey, President of Russia, “Turkish stream” will become an additional destabilizing element with long-term negative consequences for the military-political unity of Europe. After all, no one has any doubt that Russia in its current incarnation — it is the occupier who seized part of the sovereign territory of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Russia supports the bloody Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, which is fighting against Turkey for decades cooperated with the Kurdish militants, who are one of the main problems for Ankara.

Finally, Russia is considering NATO as the main enemy, accusing the Alliance in advancing to its borders and an aggressive policy, which Moscow allegedly protected. But Turkey is a key NATO countries, and the stability of the Turkish infrastructure in terms of possible aggressive actions of the imaginary enemy is an extremely important factor of the combat capability of the South-Eastern flank of the Alliance. It is directed against Turkey, the Crimean “Iskander” and squadron, and it was against the Turkish fleet is strengthened Russian black sea fleet. In addition, Turkey is negotiating accession to the EU, but Brussels did not support the “Turkish stream”, given that excessive Turkey’s dependence on Russian gas.

In the conversation between the two presidents and the comments of experts in this regard, another alarming detail. Russia and Turkey are already quite confident talking about the two branches of the “Turkish stream”, although earlier it was reported about signing the agreement envisages the construction of only one of them.

As it turned out, at a recent economic forum in St. Petersburg, Gazprom signed agreements with the Greek company DEPA and Italian Edison for the implementation of the project “Poseidon”, which envisages the deliveries of Russian gas from the Turkish-Greek border to Italy. This project if implemented will complicate the construction of the TRANS Adriatic pipeline TAP, supported by the EU and which is a continuation of the project TANAP. A project of the southern transport corridor TANAP-TAP is a nightmare for Gazprom, since its ultimate goal is the elimination of Azerbaijani gas to the European market, where until now “Gazprom” held the actual monopoly on the supply of gas though pipelines.

In case of implementation of the Kremlin’s plans to build two branches of the “Turkish stream” will be seriously weakened the energy security of the southern flank of NATO, including Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. The termination of deliveries of gas to Russia and Gazprom may create serious problems for consumers in these countries, including critical infrastructure security.

In addition, the Russian Federation will get additional reasons to increase its military presence in the North-Eastern Mediterranean, as it has already happened in the Baltic sea after the construction of the “Nord stream”. Turkey and Greece were considered by Israel as probable ways of transportation to Europe of gas from giant fields near Cyprus. In the case of construction in the region of the Russian pipelines, the probability of implementation of these plans is drastically reduced. If it is built and the “Nord stream-2”, together with “Turkish stream” and “Poseidon” will be completed “environment” Central and Eastern Europe, where the market is still insufficiently diversified and heavily dependent on Russian gas supplies, the bypass routes. It is clear that in this case the gas transportation system of Ukraine will be actually stopped, because almost all the gas will go to Germany in the North and Italy to the South, bypassing Ukraine. It would look so “positive” for the black sea region, the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe consequences of the construction of “Turkish stream” mentioned by Erdogan.

Today, the struggle against the Russian “thread” continues. Even Putin was forced to admit that “Turkish stream” have yet to finalize the environmental assessment project in Turkish territorial waters, and Poseidon is still on paper. The European Commission still prefers the project TANAP-TAP, and without a positive decision of the Brussels road “Gazprom” on the markets of Greece and Italy through the “Turkish stream” is closed, especially since there is no necessary infrastructure, the construction of which, according to experts, still need to find 700 million to $ 1 billion.

Also remains a faint hope that Turkey playing some complicated game, trying to make Russia certain decisions, for example on Syria or the Kurds, as well as demonstrating the EU and the U.S. their ability to pursue an independent policy. Because the construction of Turkish stream will take years, until 2019, the transit of Gazprom gas through Ukraine is guaranteed under the current contract, which the Ukrainian side did not break. And there is an election in Russia and Turkey, the sanctions are doing their job, so I would have to go through yet. The only problem is that when dealing with Putin, you can never calculate the consequences. Signed contractual agreements are worth nothing. In Turkish political circles have appeared phrase-the justification, which reads: “Russia is a threat, but not an enemy”. Well, four years ago for Ukraine, Russia was a strategic partner and, as present experience shows, in the geopolitical constructions is very important not to be mistaken with the assessment of real and imaginary threats and with the choice of friends and enemies.