Press-releases of the Embassy

On the energy cooperation between Russia and Turkey
(press review)

Russia reliable energy supplier, says embassy

September 13, 2008

ANKARA Turkish Daily News

The Russian Embassy in Ankara denied reports Friday that Moscow would use natural gas as a weapon directed against Turkey.

We are also dependent on the Turkish market. We are not acting politically or ideologically, but commercially and economically, said the embassy in a written statement.

Praising the active political dialogue between the two countries as an indicator of an increasing Turk-Russian partnership, the embassy underlined that the amount of mutual investments today stood at $10 billion.

Turkey depends on Russia for 29 percent of its oil and 63 percent of its natural gas and the trade volume between the two is expected to reach $38 billion this year, according to Turkish estimates. Turkey is Russia's number three natural gas customer after Germany and Italy.

We attribute due importance to our partners like Turkey, said the embassy. Russia will continue to be a reliable energy supplier for its partners including Turkey.

The embassy underlined that the press reports claiming Turkey would freeze in the winter because Russia would cut gas supplies did not reflect the truth of the matter. Russia is ready to increase the speed and volume of energy cooperation with Turkey, it noted.

Russia denies using gas as weapon' against Turkey



The Russian Federation has strongly denied news reports in several national and foreign newspapers suggesting that it has been using its vast natural gas resources as a "weapon" in its bilateral relations with Turkey.

The Russian Embassy in Ankara issued a written statement yesterday rejecting charges that it uses Turkey's energy dependence for its own interests and that it will "teach Turkey a lesson" by curtailing gas delivery.

"Russia-Turkey relations have been improving very dynamically in the recent period. The active political dialogue between Russia and Turkey is an indication of the importance attached by both sides to reinforcing and deepening the Russian-Turkish partnership," the statement said, noting that the two countries have been exploring numerous new opportunities for cooperation in both the commercial and economic spheres.

Russia has become Turkey's number one trade partner, the statement highlighted, adding that the volume of mutual investment has constantly been increasing, currently standing at almost $10 billion.

"The most pivotal role in our cooperation that provides mutual benefit is being played by the energy sector. Our joint studies in the gas energy field continues to be one of the most important factors," the embassy said, reaffirming that Russia -- which supplies two-thirds of Turkey's natural gas needs -- will continue to be a safe energy supplier for its partners, first of all for Turkey.

The statement referred to a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, which took place in 0stanbul on Sept. 2. Lavrov at the time ruled out cuts in Russian natural gas supplies to Turkey. "This is crazy. Why would such a thing happen?" Lavrov asked in response to a question. "Have you ever seen Russia breaking its commitments in any natural gas agreement?"

The main reason prompting the embassy to release such a statement was apparently a headline run by the Yeni ^afak daily in its Aug. 31 edition, where an interview with the Russian ambassador was titled "Russia's new weapon natural gas." The embassy made clear that such an expression, which caused them consternation, was not used during the interview.

Attempting to diversify its natural gas supply and decrease its dependence on Russia, Turkey is trying to construct alternative natural gas routes from the Caspian region and the Middle East. Such attempts are widely welcomed by Europe and the US for the same reason. They have frequently voiced full support for such projects as the Nabucco pipeline, which aims to bring Azeri gas to the European markets.

Moscow has established a reputation as a reliable supplier to Ankara by increasing gas supplies to Turkey to meet domestic demand when Iran cuts its exports, a near annual occurrence. But fears about Russia's reliability as a partner have risen since a recent trade row that began when Russian customs officials curbed Turkish exports. Moscow has offered no explanation, and Turkey has since responded in kind.

Gas and other types of energy products make up 70 percent of the trade between the two nations, and in addition 3 million tons of raw oil was transported from Russia to Turkey, the embassy statement said.

"Taking into consideration that Turkey is Russia's third largest gas customer after Germany and Italy, it would definitely be very appropriate to say that Russia needs the mentioned cooperation, which provides mutual benefit as much as Turkey needs it. We attach very great importance to our partners like Turkey. Russia is not acting on political and geopolitical motives on this issue, but is acting on commercial and economic motives," it added.