Süreyya YİĞİT, PhD*
Abstract. The past decade has witnessed the European Union paying specific attention to the issue of energy security. Whilst the Russia-Ukraine gas crises of 2006 and 2009 encouraged such a measure, the annexation of Crimea highlighted that energy dependence on Russia must be reduced and alternative energy sources be found. A southern route which forecast transferring Caspian energy through Turkey to the borders of the EU was proposed which is coming into fruition through the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project. This paper provides an overview of the energy challenges the EU faces, the strategic choices it has made and evaluates the benefits of TANAP for the EU.
Such developments all augur well for the EU and non-EU energy poor countries of Europe. TANAP has been welcomed by these countries, especially Turkey which now has the opportunity to diversify its energy supplies whilst at the same time at least maintaining – and more likely – improving its already very close relations with Baku.
In this regard, it was instructional to note that when the foundation was laid for the TANAP project an educational establishment in Kars was also officially opened which bore the name of Heydar Aliyev, the predecessor and father of the current president of Azerbaijan.1 The reaction of most Turks gauged and directed by media reports have been highly positive with great stress being laid on the fraternal relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan, highlighted and identified by the popular slogan: ”One Nation, Two States”.2
By December 2016 TANAP had reached a completion rate of 55% and bearing no unforeseen circumstances the first volumes of Azeri gas should reach Turkey via TANAP in June 2018 and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline on the Greek-Turkish border in June 2019.3 It is when natural gas begins to flow to EU member states that Brussels will have at least partially achieved a self-declared aim published in the Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy: ”To ensure the diversification in gas supplies, work on the Southern Gas Corridor must be intensified to enable Central Asian countries to export their gas to Europe….. As part of a revitalized European energy and climate diplomacy, the EU will use all its foreign policy instruments to establish strategic energy partnerships with increasingly important producing and transit countries or regions such as Algeria and Turkey; Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.”4
To conclude, in one particularity the post-Cold War era resembles the age of empires: when great powers desired to increase their territory, maximize their command and authority. A good illustration of this is the resurgence of Russia, condemned by the international community for its aggressive actions in Ukraine. Whereas during the age of empires railway lines mattered most in terms of domination and power projection through the trans-continental transportation of troops, today pipelines, transporting natural gas and fuelling modern national economies have taken on board that role.
Thus, the EU is trying to lessen its energy dependency on Russia. It is pursuing this strategy through diversifying its supply routes, encouraging Caspian natural resources to be transferred to the European market. TANAP is only the first step in this endeavour. It will certainly not be the last as this search for energy security must expand both east and west in order to reach its final aim of reducing Europe’s dependency on Russia.
1 Erdoğan, R. (2015). Haydar Aliyev Mesleki ve Teknik Anadolu Lisesi ile Toplu Açılış Töreni’nde Yaptıkları Konuşma. [online]. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanlığı, 17 March 2015. [online]. Available at: <http://www.tccb. gov.tr/konusmalar/353/29803/haydar-aliyev-mesleki-ve-teknik-anadolu-lisesi-ile-toplu-acilis-toreninde-yaptiklari-konusma.html> [Accessed 7 March 2017]
2 14 March 2015 Türkiye, 15 March 2015 Hürriyet and 16 March 2015 Sabah newspapers.
3 Abbasova, N. (2016).TANAP completed by almost 55 percent. [online]. Azernews, 12 December 2016. Available at: <http://www.azernews.az/oil_and_gas/106391.html> [Accessed 7 March 2017]
4 Package, EU (2015). A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank, COM, 80.
Key words: Energy Security, TANAP, European Union, Caucasus, Central Asia