The European Union (EU) and Turkey have been on a divergent path over the past five years, but energy security is one of those sectors where the two partners would clearly benefit from closer cooperation. This paper by Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center Deputy Director David Koranyi and Nicolò Sartori, researcher in the security and defence department at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome, explores energy relations between Turkey and the EU in the context of EU accession talks, focusing on natural gas as a strategic component of these relations.
Turkey is in an ambiguous situation when it comes to its role as a strategic transit hub for energy supplies to Europe due to its strong geographic location on the one hand and its heavy dependence on gas imports on the other. As Turkey’s decision-makers are squeezed to secure additional quantities of gas supplies, short-term political and economic considerations (securing price discounts) often trump strategic considerations. The EU is to a large degree responsible for pushing Turkey into such a position. The continuous stalling and ambiguity on the part of the EU as regards the opening of the energy chapter of Turkey’s accession negotiations may encourage a less cooperative energy policy from Ankara that is in the interests of no member state. At the same time, Turkish foot-dragging on the Energy Community further precludes elevating EU-Turkish energy cooperation to a more strategic level. Ankara should recognize that thinking long-term, acceding to the Energy Community and thus adopting the energy acquis at the earliest possible occasion will ultimately benefit Turkey and act as a safeguard against regional suppliers abusing their dominant positions, without undermining Turkey’s negotiating positions with Brussels on eventual EU membership.