setav.org | Insight Turkey Vol. 12 / No. 3 / 2010 pp. 147-168
Turkey has become an important east-west and north-south gas and oil transit route and an energy hub, thanks to the Turkish straits, and the existing and proposed pipelines that run through its territory. Economic opportunities, however, can present diplomatic liabilities.
In a tough and complicated region, Turkey finds itself caught between the interests of competing superpowers and regional players.
As the world’s 16th largest economy, Turkey’s thirst for energy will only increase. Satisfying this thirst requires not only diversification of sources and routes, but also good relations with all neighbors, in addition to traditional partners.
An analysis of Ankara’s options and new foreign policy vision shows that Turkey has little choice but to use greater caution and engagement.
Following its own national interests and security concerns will drive Turkey to new openings in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and other CIS
countries. Energy will be one of the main pillars of Turkey’s policy of engagement and integration in the region.
Thanks to the recent gas crisis between Ukraine and Russia, a global ratio of tight supply and high demand, and the location of oil and gas markets in some of the most volatile regions of the world, the geopolitics of energy has made a spectacular return to the international political agenda. Both Europe and the key transit countries at the crossroads of Eurasia such as Ukraine and Turkey have learned the hard way the importance of more systematically incorporating energy security into foreign policy. For too long these two tracks have been separate, and the energy and foreign policy worlds have hardly spoken to each other. Now countries are increasingly committing themselves to pursuing energy security as part of their national security agenda. A broad assessment of the foreign policy dimensions of energy security is at the center of many nations’ new foreign and security calculations. For many countries, energy security is already a top foreign policy priority. Turkey is one of them. The new Turkish foreign policy outlook envisages that the country can work for a world in which the interests of energy consumers and producers are increasingly aligned rather than apart. At the same time, based on the example of Russia, it is clear that energy initiatives can significantly advance a country’s broader foreign policy agenda.
* Harvard University, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, email@example.com