The answer to the question “Can Turkey be a central country for energy?” will directly affect the place of Turkey in the region's politics and economy.
With this awareness and taking into consideration the relationship between energy and the developments in Turkey in recent years, in the introductory panel of the “Turkey's Quest to Become a Central Country for Energy” report we prepared as the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), the main issue has been, beside the energy-economy relation, the effect of energy on regional politics and the security of the region.
The growth of the energy need that progresses along with Turkey's economic growth is only part of energy policies. Yes, the Turkish economy needs energy for growth. However, having a say in regional energy policy and being a player is a bigger goal, exceeding Turkey's economic growth goal. For this, the partnerships that Turkey establishes on energy inside or outside the region are important.
In a region rich in energy resources, Turkey's need for energy has been a dilemma for years. But in the years of political and economic instability, it was not possible to use the energy advantage of the country's location. The situation is quite different now.
The political and economic situation is suitable for benefiting from advantages rather than taking over the cost of the geography in which Turkey is situated. Despite the things going on in the countries just next to it, despite the many attempts made within, Turkey did not miss the mark on the way to becoming an energy hub.
As Berak Albayrak, the minister of Energy and Natural Resources who attended the panel at SETA remarked, despite of the chaos and conflict always waiting at Turkey's door, it managed to remain politically and economically stable. That is why with the things going on in Syria and Iraq, the negative situation that was formed against Turkey cannot make Turkey give up its goal of becoming an energy center.
THE INDICATOR TURNS TO TURKEY IN ENERGY
Turkey has always taken over and paid the cost of the region. It has a very different path ahead in energy. One of the milestones of this path is the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) – the project that will carry Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe via Turkey. The success of this project will accelerate the process for other energy projects and make things easier.
Not only Azerbaijan, but also Iran, Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Qatar, Turkmenistan and the East Mediterranean are the other resource countries on Turkey's way to becoming an energy center. Major projects like TANAP, which will be put into practice with these countries, will strengthen Turkey's role as a center country in energy.
Also, the countries trying to break the Russian monopoly in energy see Turkey as the way out. Especially for the countries that try to stand out in the Liquidized Natural Gas (LNG), Turkey is a strong commercial partner where they can sell LNG and it presents a safe route for the transfer of LNG.
Additionally, Turkey will not only want to take over the duty as a transition country among the countries which supply and demand energy. In this role it will be able to determine the energy prices, the countries can reach the international energy markets and provide the safety of the energy transfer. At this point TANAP stands out as a successful example for energy cooperation and partnership in the region.
THE BALANCE IN THE REGION CAN BE ESTABLISHED WITH TURKEY BECOMING AN ENERGY CENTER
The undeniable fact is that in order to be among the high-income economies, Turkey has to increase its economic growth rate and for that it has to provide energy supply security.
But also, Turkey has a mission to represent political and economic stability in the region and by means of energy to be able to establish the balance in the region.
The steps to be taken after that have significance besides Turkey's economic growth and strong politics for using the energy wealth of the region for peace and prosperity in the region.
The role that Turkey, with a border with 60 percent of the energy basin, will assume, is also a way out for the region's energy-rich countries trapped in the vicious circle of political chaos.
Turkey's becoming a center country in energy will be a driving force for establishing a new political and economic balance in the region for many years.