Turkish PM threatens new EU gas pipeline

20th January 2009, Comments 1 comment

The warning by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes amid Europe's worst gas crisis caused by a dispute between Russia and Ukraine that has led to gas shortages across the continent.

Brussels, January 19, 2009 (AFP) - Turkey threatened Monday to review its position on a strategic new gas pipeline for Europe that would bypass Russia if its EU accession talks were blocked.

The warning by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes amid Europe's worst gas crisis caused by a dispute between Russia and Ukraine that has led to gas shortages across the continent.

The crisis has sharpened attention on the need to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas, with the proposed Nabucco pipeline that would carry supplies from the Caspian Sea or Middle East via Turkey to Austria seen as critical.

"If we're faced with a situation where the energy chapter is blocked then we would review our position" on Nabucco, Erdogan said during a conference in Brussels.

Turkey's bid to join the European Union requires 35 chapters covering key areas of governance to be opened and agreed, with energy currently closed because of objections by Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004.

"The other side ought to be fair in his treatment," said Erdogan. "They should not prefer southern Cyprus, located far away from Europe and a only a few hundred thousand people, compared with Turkey with 70 million people."

He added: "We have to talk about the facts openly. Southern Cyprus is putting pressure so that some chapters are not opened, like energy."

Turkey refuses to endorse the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government and instead recognises the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north of the island.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey seized its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the Mediterranean island with Greece.

Erdogan said he hoped to see "a leap" in Turkey's efforts to join the European Union in 2009.

Some EU nations firmly oppose the idea of Turkey, a mainly Muslim country of 70 million, joining the bloc amid misgivings among voters. France favours a special relationship that stops short of full membership for Turkey.

Erdogan criticised negative comments about his country in the EU that meant public support for joining the EU was waning.

"Our people are reacting to some negative declarations from the EU side which question Turkey's accession to the EU. But we're very decisive, it's a top priority issue," Erdogan said.

"We don't ask for special treatment, but a fair and equal treatment. We are not here to be a burden for the EU we want to share the burden," he added.

Nabucco is a proposed 3,400-kilometre (2,112-mile) pipeline between Turkey and Austria that would transport up to 31 billion cubic metres of gas each year.

The pipeline currently has six shareholders -- OMV of Austria, MOL of Hungary, Transgaz of Romania, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria, Botas of Turkey and RWE of Germany -- but progress has so been slow-moving because of the number of approvals and agreements needed between the countries concerned.

Ministers from the six countries are set to meet in Budapest on January 26-27 and the head of the project, Reinhard Mitschek, hopes for a final green light this year.

Russia and Italy have put forward a rival pipeline project of their own, called South Stream.

One of the main hurdles to Nabucco has been financing.

The consortium recently raised the estimated cost to about eight billion euros (10.7 billion dollars) compared with the initial projection of 4.4 billion euros.

For Nabucco to be profitable, Europe would have to find 30 billion cubic metres of gas each year from countries such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq, experts say.


1 Comment To This Article

  • cmanap40 posted:

    on 20th January 2009, 16:19:40 - Reply

    Kick Russia in the ass. They control too much of the earth the way it is. Where is it written that they should have it all. Germany is squashed in the middle of Europe with no room for expansion or the ability to attain any more natural resources so I believe it is time to take that midget Putin by his nose and kick him in the ass. Wake up Deutchland, it's time to assert yourself and to rid yourself from the role of the evil thrust upon you in the twentieth century. What a proppaganda job that was and still is.
    General Patton stated at the end of WWII that we , the Americans were fighting the wrong people and that we should attack Russia now when America still had her army still in tact. Things would be a lot different now if The United States would have attacked Bolshevik Russia back then. Flying tiger, cmanap40