Istanbul: Fostering solidarity in the Turkic World

September 19, 2010 at 10:53 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Energy Diplomacy Marks Istanbul’s Turkic Summit
Friday, 17 September 2010
Energy diplomacy dominated proceedings at the two-day meeting of Turkic-speaking countries in Istanbul, even though members had ostensibly come to the conference to focus on fostering solidarity in the Turkic world. The energy ministers of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey held three-way talks on Wednesday on the margins of the event about the Caspian region, natural gas pipelines and energy projects including the European Union-backed multinational Nabucco project aimed at pumping Caspian or Middle Eastern gas to Europe.

The status of the Caspian Sea is a source of contention between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, which has thus prevented the proposed Nabucco pipeline from securing potential stocks of natural gas.

The presidents of the two countries, however, gave peaceful messages during the press conference. “We have a common history and culture with Azerbaijan. Muslims always support their neighbors. We have no intention of spoiling our friendly relations with Azerbaijan,” Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said.

“It is clear that this issue will be discussed for decades. We want to solve this problem based on international agreements,” he said, referring to a commission established to determine the status of the Caspian.

“We have high-level relations with Turkmenistan,” said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. “We solve major disputes in cooperation. We are friends. We should share both the natural gas and the oil.”

Despite the positive steps with Azerbaijan, Berdymukhammedov refused to sign a document establishing a Turkic council, one of the major’s points of the summit. In addition to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan also chose not to join the council.

Positive signal from Turkmenistan on Nabucco

Turkmenistan, which has not yet declared whether it will join Nabucco, gave positive signals Thursday but declined to commit to a specific amount of natural gas.

“We are building an east-west pipeline that will reach the Caspian. Nabucco is about this,” said Berdymukhammedov. “It is a reality that there is gas. We are pursuing an open policy about gas. Today we are supplying gas to Russia, China and Iran.”

A long-planned 1,043-mile east-west pipeline, named TAPI after the initials of the four participating countries – Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – would move gas from the Dauletabad gas field in Turkmenistan to consumers in Pakistan and India after transiting Afghanistan. Turkmenistan holds more than 40 trillion cubic feet of gas in the field.

The energy ministers of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will meet on Sept. 20 for discussions on the east-west pipeline and the presidents will convene in December.

“We are focusing on this project,” said Berdymukhammedov. “Some $1 billion will be invested in this project. I believe the problems [between the countries] will be resolved through diplomatic means,” he said.

In comments on Afghanistan, the Turkmenistan president said the war-torn country was in a complicated situation. “I believe the people of Afghanistan are in favor of peace.”

The Asian Development Bank financed a feasibility study for TAPI in 2005, despite the ongoing instability in Afghanistan.

By Fulya Ozerkan (HDN)

Turkish Weekly is an USAK Publication. USAK is the leading Ankara based Turkish think-tank.



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