The Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline project, described in person by senior members of the Azeri state as the “project of the century”, has not achieved the recognition it deserves among the Turkish public, despite causing great excitement among those familiar with the subject. This plan for natural gas reserves from Azerbaijan’s Caspian shores in Central Asia to be sent to Europe via Anatolia - in which Turkey will also be a recipient - will be much discussed in the years ahead. In fact, this project is the first step in the Southern Gas Corridor Project planned between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Even in this form, the project is thought to be capable of fundamentally altering balances both far and near, while when the entire project goes into operation it will likely have a dramatic impact on the entire region.
Turkey currently obtains a large part of its natural gas requirements from its northern neighbor Russia. It is therefore justly proud in taking part in a new that will diversify that supply model, lower costs and, most importantly, allow Turkey’s voice to be heard in the supply chain. The agreement for this project, signed last September on behalf of Azerbaijan and Turkey in Baku by Azeri head of state Aliyev and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu was one which had long been prepared beforehand and one for which financing had been arranged and the implementation of which was of great importance to both parties.
The dream of existing natural gas reserves from Azerbaijan’s Caspian shores being carried to Europe via Turkey is not something of concern to Azerbaijan and Turkey alone. Of course Turkey intends to diversify its natural gas supplies and reduce its dependence on Russia, but there are countries that need this maybe even more than Turkey does. These are of course the countries of Europe, whose dependence on Russia will decline once the projects are implemented in their entirety.
Even if they encounter no problems in purchasing natural gas, European countries still support the idea of an alternative route to Russia, which has no qualms about using natural gas as a trump card in its international relations. TANAP, which is important for Turkey and for Europe, will take its place in the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor project is intended to improve the variety of supply in bringing Caspian, central Asian and Middle Eastern natural gas resources to Europe. Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed on the Turkish leg of the corridor. TANAP involves the building of a 2,000-km pipeline and a transportation capacity of 32 billion cubic meters of gas. Six billion cubic meters of gas will reach Turkey within the framework of the project in 2018. The ultimate goal is to carry 10 billion cubic meters to Europe by the same route as of 2019.
One of the main features of this natural gas corridor is that in contrast to other pipelines, it all runs through secure territory, namely Turkey. In addition, both Azerbaijan and Turkey can easily meet the approximately $18 billion financing required by the project. Economic integration between the two countries is increasing by the day and is one of the reasons for the growing belief that the project will be completed. A few decades ago, Azerbaijan was on the same economic level as Armenia, but it is now a very different country. With its accumulated capital it now has important investments in Turkey, such as PEKTIM.
Another important aspect of the project from Turkey’s point of view is the development of relations to allow other regional countries with reserves on the Caspian as well as Azerbaijan to join in: Iran, another important regional country, looks favorably on the project.
Integration of the reserves belonging to the Iraqi Kurdistan regional administration, our northern neighbor, which is admittedly going through some troubles at the moment, will also add to the significance of the TANAP project many times over. This will be a vital step that will genuinely accelerate prosperity in the region, currently known mainly for blood and tears, and speed up economic and political integration with Turkey.
This exciting pipeline to be built under Turkish leadership will not only raise the well-being of the countries in question, but will also bring peace and brotherhood between these countries and their people; such projects must therefore not only be regarded as mega- projects bringing in huge financial revenues. TANAP will play an important role in bringing peace and well-being to the region. It will establish shared values, union and brotherhood between societies and will certainly accelerate integration.
This project will perhaps be the most concrete manifestation of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s idea of one nation, two countries.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arabian Gazette: