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Turkey new energy crossroads says Gul

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Turkey new energy crossroads says Gul

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The world’s new energy challenges mean big opportunities for Turkey. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is convinced of this. He spoke to EuroNews in the middle of July, at the moment Ankara opened the taps on a new strategically critical oil pipeline bringing supplies to the European market. Sandwiched between the Russian giant and unstable middle eastern neighbours, the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan pipeline has been dubbed by the Turks the 21st. century’s silk road.

Christophe Midol-Monnet, EuroNews:

“With this pipeline, Turkey develops new ties with the Caucasus and Central Asia. What are the consequences of these new links on the foreign policy of Turkey?”

Abdullah Gul, Turkish Foreign Minister:

“You are right. This is a really strategic project. Now, we are going to load one million barrels of oil each day. This is a big project and a really strategic project. We are not going to load only Caucasian oil here, also Central Asian oil is going to be connected, in fact it has already been connected. So, Kazakh oil is going to be loaded to this pipeline and it is going to be marketed here.

Question:
“In the general framework of the foreign policy, is it a shift eastward for Turkey?”

Abdullah Gul:
“No, we are connecting continents in fact. We are not connecting them only in Istanbul with the bridge, we are also connecting East to West here. In fact, we are connecting Central Asia to the West here. So, this is why it is a really strategic project.”

Question:
“What about Russia, a big oil provider. Is it for Turkey a competitor or an ally?”

Abdullah Gul:
“Well, Russia is an ally of us. As you know, we are getting oil also from Russia, there is a “Blue Stream” project, it is now working very well, from Russia and the Black Sea to Turkey. So, Turkey is a real hub for energy. From East to West, North to South and also from South to North: Egyptian gas is going to be connected also to the Turkish sytem.”

Question:
“What influence this new role of Turkey in the energy field can have on its negociations with the European Union?”

Abdullah Gul:
“Well, first of all, when you get the impact study carried on for Turkey, the role of energy is very important and the role of Turkey is also very important there. The EU is going to be more safe and EU’s energy demand is going to be met by Turkish routes more safely. So, therefore, I think this is very important.”

Question:
“Your EU membership talks seem to experience a difficult start. Criticism rises from Brussels on topics like Cyprus or freedom of speech. How do you answer to this criticism?”

Abdullah Gul:
“Well, the Cyprus issue is a different issue. But we have started the accession negociations and we have completed the screening part very successfully, I think. There are only three or four remaining chapters but this process went very well. We know our responsibility well, we are going to fulfill our responsibilities, the reform process will continue in Turkey; economic reforms, and democratic reforms.

Question:
“What about the latest criticism on the penal code and on freedom of speech?”

Abdullah Gul:
“Well, expression of speech is free in Turkey. And so far there is no one who is in prison because of that. We have changed the Constitution, we have changed laws, so you can express your opinion.”

Question:
“What is your bet about the first gathering Turkey will join: G8 or EU?”

Abdullah Gul:
“Well, these are in fact different platforms. We have already started the accession negociations. So, we focus on this and I am sure that we will overcome the difficulties and we are very careful about our responsibilities, what we have to do. So, we will continue on this path.”