The continual resistance of the main actors in Europe to show clear, coherent and a unified initiative concerning the need to enhance its relations with the resource rich Central Asian Republics through its advantageous relationship with Turkey, in spite of the encouragement of the US is causing the western hegemonic project to potentially wither away with the loss of “The Grand Chessboard” to Russia and China’s common initiative, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The strategic partnership between the EU and the US requires both to mutually help secure the opposites security interests. The western hegemonic project requires not just the physical and border security of the EU which is being developed through the neighborhood policy attempting to expand European influence to the former dominions of Russia in Eastern Europe, the Caucuses and far as the Central Asian Turkic Republics (in opposition to the Russian ‘Near Abroad’ policy and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-SCO). A similar attempt is found in the development of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation through the Barcelona Process (in opposition to increasing economic interests and influence of China in the region).
The security of the European energy supply, required for the maintenance of its industry and economy, through diversification of sources of energy import by building new transit ways and securing the continuous flow through current ones is also an inseparable part of the above mentioned projects developed to enhance European regional security and influence in its immediate region through mutual dependence.
Most authors analyzing energy security cite Turkey as crucial for Europe to maintain its energy security by diversifying its gas sources, decreasing Europe’s dependence on gas provided by Russian Federation sources, in light of the clear utilization of energy supply as a political tool to further Russian interests.
The European need to diversify gas supply has been apparent since the declaration of the new Russian military doctrine by Vladimir Putin in 2000 that outlined its new security objectives. This declaration was followed by the “Energy Strategy of Russian Federation until 2030” in 2003. Which clearly constituted a warning to countries dependent upon Russia’s energy supply was made clear by the inclusion of the following in the preamble:
“Energy resources will constitute an instrument of Russia’s foreign policy” This declaration was followed by the agreement of cooperation between Gazprom and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Evidence suggests that this development was premeditated. All the Ambassadors of the Russian Federation were recalled back to Moscow for the first time in 16 years to reassess Russia's foreign policy concept where future relations with EU in the areas of economics, security and energy policies were discussed on 12 July 2002.
Russia appears to have found its ultimate soft weapon against its opponents: Russia controls 33% of the world natural gas reserves and 5% of the world’s petrol reserves. Meanwhile it is one of the two countries geostrategically positioned as an access route for Asian gas on route to Europe. As for production Russia's share of the world gas market is 24% and 9% of the world petrol market. In respect of export Russian petrol constitutes 7% and 56% of the gas exported in the world.
The Ambassador of the republic of Ukraine to the Republic of Turkey states:
“energy resources and energy policy became a geopolitical weapon even more dangerous than conventional military arsenal…it would take a middle sized war to leave millions of homes in Europe without heating and hot water; and heavy industry almost ruined without sources of energy. But it took only two weeks for Russia cutting off gas supply to the EU and Turkey to seed a chaos in Brussels, desperation in Sofia..”
This statement bears witness to the current European energy insecurity, as 80% of gas going to Europe from Russia (which accounts for 41% of Europe's gas imports) passes through Ukraine.
The overshadowing of western ambitions in the region by the progress of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is becoming a more distinct possibility. China is acting faster than Europe in integrating the Central Asian Republics economically to it. A gas pipeline is already being built to Kazakhstan and a new agreement has been reached for a project that will bring Turkmen gas to China after passing through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. China and Russia have used the SCO skillfully by developing it into a quasi OPEC for gas and security alliance. It was soon after the Astana SCO meeting in 2005 that Uzbekistan asked the US to leave its K-2 Airbase on its soil with support from the SCO. This gives the SCO a massive advantage against Europe's neighborhood policy as it sustains Central Asian economies and further integrates these states to Russia and China for its defense security. The EU could not provide any defensive advantages through enhanced relations while making continuous demands for further liberalization and democratization of these states.
This predicament that the EU finds itself in will only continue as the forecasts reflect a 50% increase in energy requirements by the year 2030. Unless there is a sudden shift in technology rendering fossil fuels obsolete, Europe needs to secure alternative sources of energy in order to diminish Russia's hegemonic objectives. At this point the US perceives the EU’s energy dependency on Russia as a security risk to itself and is attempting to help the EU secure diverse sources of energy.
In spite of US support, it has so far been the mistakes of the main actors of the EU that has hindered progress in securing energy sources needed for the rest of Europe. France has remained oblivious to the issue of securing alternative transit routes mainly because France derives nearly 80% of its energy demand from nuclear sources. France is also wary of the advantage Turkey would gain in its accession process to the EU if it becomes a vital route for energy for Europe. Germany has preferred to sidetrack a common European energy initiative in favor of bilaterally securing its energy needs through the Nord Stream Pipeline passing under the Baltic Sea that bypasses other transit routes. In order to avoid offending the private arrangement made with Russia, Germany has declined to support projects that would serve to benefit Europe as a whole.
The US and Turkey
The overlap of American and Turkish agendas and interests concerning Europe's energy security allows the two to be studied in parallel. The coherent policy of the US has been the greatest driving force for Turkey becoming an energy hub for Europe. It has even been repeated that the Baku-Tiflisi-Ceyhan pipe project, the first to bypass Russia to bring Asian gas to Europe has been credited as the greatest achievement of the Clinton administration.
It is within the interests of the US and NATO to assist and support said projects as soft policy tools that can be used until the hard policy backing of the US is required. As it was the case during the 1991 Gulf war where even though it was not an NATO effort, it also involved France, Britain and Italy that sought to prevent Iraqi control over Kuwaiti oil fields and threats to the oil supply from Saudi oil fields. . The successful implementation of European projects to secure energy sources and transit routes automatically secures energy sources and transit routes to the US as well since any source that provides fuel for one would provide fuel for the other.
The economic security of Europe will continue to be supported by the US as long as Europe continues to be dependent on the US for its own security (hence preventing Europe from becoming a military rival). At this point it is worth mentioning that the there is criticism in the US that ESDP could develop enough to compete with NATO, however US policy makers believe they can keep such aspirations in check while simultaneously diversifying its military presence to other areas that might require it and is pressuring Europe to take on a greater share of its military burden (without actually taking on all of it).
All sources researched for this paper repeatedly state the need for EU not to push Turkey away. How Turkey has been a loyal ally to the US and Europe since Turkey joined NATO in 1952 and supported allied efforts from Korea to Afghanistan. Repeatedly underlined is the necessity of the Nabucco projects implementation as the Main Oil Pipeline (MEP) for gas and oil derived from the Caspian Sea and the Central Asian Republics for building of a mutually dependent relationship.
This necessity has also been outlined by the Marc Grossman, Former Ambassador to Ankara (1994-1997) in his paper written in 2007.
“There are many other pipeline projects in and around Turkey that can have a direct impact on us and European energy security...new East-West oil pipelines, in addition to the return to full capacity of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, will bring more crude to market. East-West natural gas pipelines, including the proposed south Caucasus gas pipeline (Baku-Erzurum-Ceyhan) and the Turkey-Greece-Italy Gas Pipeline will transport this key commodity west. Projected North-lines, including the Samsun ceyhan oil pipeline and, perhaps some day, a Turkey-Israel oil gas pipeline, could also add to the West’s energy security…
No one knows what the future holds in Russia, but dreams of a democratic Russia tied positively to Europe have faded, at least for now. Russia’s intimidation of natural gas customers, distortion of the goals of missile defense deployments and such makes it vital that NATO remains strong and that Turkey remains strongly committed to NATO.
Instead, the EU must leave the door open to Turkey’s membership aspirations and make them dependent on Turkey’s own performance. Turks will need to work for another decade to fully meet EU standards. If the EU does not have its goal posts, Turkey will be a stronger society in 10 years, ready for full EU membership and even more ready to contribute to a Europe, and a neighborhood, whole, free and at peace…
The Turkish government can act to promote tolerance in ways that are symbolically crucial, for instance opening the land border with Armenia and opening the Greek Orthodox training school for priests in Istanbul. Ankara also needs to support basic freedoms by abolishing the sections of the penal code which restrict freedom of speech. Taking these steps would demonstrate that Turkey continues on the road to a more open, pluralistic and tolerant society.
By paying active attention to Turkey’s future today, US and European leaders can shape a positive outcome and Turkey’s success will further enhance and European security”.
The accuracy of the predictions of Marc Grossman, Former US ambassador to Turkey, makes concerning the future function of Turkey is surprising, especially when one considers that just recently the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline was reopened and an agreement was signed with Israel to develop a new pipeline the previous week.
The lack of alternative energy corridors also does not prevent the pressure for foreign policy concessions (in the form of opening the borders with Armenia for example). In spite of the fact that the EU and the US hegemonic ambitions require Turkey as a policy tool in order to succeed, more than Turkey needs them.
The pressures on the Turkish state continue to mount in spite of the opportunity to make demands of its own. Turkey is a net energy importing country that needs to secure its energy interests by the middle of the next decade. Energy security is one of the few areas where the US and Turkey are in absolute agreement. The insistence of US President Obama towards the EU to allow Turkey to join reflects this.
The US foresees European interests better than the EU itself does. The joining of Turkey and the EU will secure transit lines for Europe while enhancing European relation with the east in general. With Turkey as a member the neighborhood policy can be expanded to include Azerbaijan and the Central Asian Republics which are wary of Russian monopolistic and imperialistic tendencies concerning their resources, as Russia prevents or attempts to block these states from diversifying their client base and enhance their relations with Europe.
This arrangement will prove to be mutually beneficial for Turkey as well, since it would be difficult for Turkey to enhance its own relations with these states currently under Russian patronage without western backing, while securing energy at a lower cost for itself.
The “diversification with Europeanization through Turkey” Should become the EU’s main foreign policy goal in order to achieve several objectives. Unless Turkey is used as the main bridge to Central Asian energy sources, the advantage of acquiring energy from its primary source with lower overhead costs will seem a lesser loss then the loss of the Central Asian Republics politically to Russia and China.
Europe needs to immediately tone down its demands on Turkey concerning the accession process and speed up the Nabucco project in order to, at this point not catch up but at least secure some vital resources in Central Asia. Anything less will make Europe nothing but a minor actor in world affairs and entirely dependent on Russia to sustain its economy, while also burdening and weakening the US for its lack of ability in defending its own borders.
The inability of the EU to show clear initiative in developing a unified energy foreign policy in spite of clear warnings over the past ten year of future developments concerning its energy security interests, will continue to hinder the trans-atlantic hegemonic project to a degree that if continued will cause irreversible damage to the project and even the trans-atlantic alliance itself once the control of the lifeline that sustains the European economic engine is out of reach.