The Russian government can do little to undermine the competitiveness of alternative supplies along the Southern Gas Corridor. Moreover, the suppliers’ list is rapidly expanding with new gas fields in the Azeri offshore of the Caspian (Absheron and Shah Deniz 3), Turkmenistan (swaps already under way via Iran with Azerbaijan), Iran, Northern Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean. All this clearly alludes to the feasibility of alternative gas exports via Greece and Bulgaria to the rest of the EU. Gazprom’s nightmares are just starting to mature as soaring production and transportation costs within Russia do not leave much room for further cost-cutting. Militarizing the Caspian Sea To block the development and export of Caspian gas, including via the Trans-Caspian pipeline, Moscow decided to relocate its flotilla from Astrakhan
Shortly after President Aliev inaugurated the first phase of the Southern Gas Corridor and announced the opening of the TANAP pipeline on June 12th, Russia beefed up its wartime machine to block competition to its gas supplies in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. The timing of the agreement between the Turkish government and Gazprom on the onshore segment of Turkish Stream matched to the day the news from Azerbaijan. Ostensibly, this a legitimate defense of Gazprom’s market shares, having already lost substantial chunks in the diversified market of Turkey and Greece – where it accounts for 50-60% of the gas imports. When the periscope moves on to Bulgaria – the bounty is a complete and seemingly durable monopoly. Yet, even in this small market, the Russian state company has
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The article first published in americanthinker.com on 10/23/2017. Though Western Europe and Washington are reluctant to fess up to this unfortunate fact, Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long ago given up even the pretence of being a democratic polity and is openly pursuing policies detrimental to democracy, the rule of law and Western security considerations. In short, Turkey has become an Islamist dictatorship every bit as inimical to Western interests as Iran, except for being allowed by the West to maintain the charade that it is still a member of NATO and the western community of nations. This is a dangerous charade that would inevitably come back to haunt us. For the reality is that Erdogan the Islamist, has ambitions that go beyond Turkey and even the Middle East. Well
The news from Ankara these days ascertain an important segment in President Erdogan’s drive for global prominence as he is borrowing heavily from President Putin’s guide for autocratic leaders. Yet it is hard to see how he will be able to profit from the Kremlin’s recipes, lacking the tsar’s resources and insatiable pool of social patience. Russia has been seeking to build on the rifts within NATO and US-Turkish relations by enticing Erdogan into a pool of geopolitical tradeoffs and gambles. Putin’s attempts to undermine the EU and the US are persisting. The chance to help Turkey steer away from NATO’s mainstream and turn into its weakest element seems up for grabs. President Putin is visiting Turkey this week to talk over a new strategic framework
There are historical events that are just that, vaguely-remembered memories of events past that are of interest mostly to professional historians. And then there are momentous events that shape a nation’s consciousness for better or worse for generations to come. One such event for the Greeks is the massacre at Smyrna at the end of WWI nearly a 100 years ago. Just in time to remind us of this consequential tragedy is a new book by the German historian, Heinz A. Richter, a rare impartial look at one of the events that colors Greek national identity like few others. Nor is this reminder of historical significance alone. For it is the case that Turkey’s Islamist dictator, Erdogan and the subservient to him Islamist press, ever more openly question the
One of the greatest challenges we face today is to understand the trends and reap the benefits of change in a rapidly evolving world. Just a decade ago, leaders in south and southeastern Europe believed that breaking away from Gazprom’s monopoly meant they needed to connect to the Caspian Sea gas finds. The second phase of the Shah Deniz-2 project was considered the Holy Grail of energy independence for SEE countries – a belief that led to the strategic project of the Southern Gas Corridor, the development of the second phase of the Shah Deniz gas field and the construction of costly transport infrastructure, worth in total more than $45 billion. In the original plan these investments were meant to be recovered via gas sales with 9
The article first published in danielpipes.org on 07/18/2017. In February, Turkey’s ambassador to Israel told this author to stay away from his country; at least he did so diplomatically. In June, Turkey’s ambassador to Bulgaria treated me in a remarkably rude and undiplomatic manner. The occasion was a talk I gave, “On Turkey and Erdoğan – a partner or a threat,” for the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies think tank in Sofia. After mentioning my connections to and affection for Turkey, I explained that strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inability to reconcile three competing priorities — Islam, Turkey, and Erdoğan — and the resulting contradictions are likely to doom his regime. By the end of the event, Amb. Süleyman Gökçe confirmed that prediction. He came early, sat in