Istanbul is not only a famous holiday spot for foreign visitors, but also a host for major international meetings and events, thanks to its increasing importance in the global political economy over the last 10 years. Three weeks ago, delegates from 192 countries came together at the Union Postal Universelle's global meeting in Istanbul, which underlined the importance of postal services for international economic and social relations and its increasing contribution to global development. Just after the meeting, after 39 years, more than 250 participants including ministers, bureaucrats and top level managers of companies from 80 countries came together in Istanbul for the 23rd World Energy Conference (WEC).
One of the most important aspects of the WEC is the messages by Turkish leaders emphasizing global stability and the "sharing for peace" motto. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underlined the importance of fair distribution of energy resources and specifically mentioned Sub-Saharan Africa's energy problem while Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak mentioned that cooperation in the energy industry will help the resolution of regional conflicts. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said energy security and the accessibility of energy at reasonable prices are now national security matters for countries.
All these messages and leaders of the global energy industry being present showed us that new players are now entering the market, and technology is the new key for energy production, which is also changing the parameters of the energy game.
Turkey: Host of big projects
The messages conveyed during the World Energy Congress by certain presidents held critical importance. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave the message that petroleum is still the most important energy resource and the price in the market for oil should be fair, should encourage investors and should be determined by consensus with all producers. Maduro also talked about their willingness to increase cooperation between Turkey and Venezuela and learn from Turkey's experience in certain industries. Maduro stressed that they expect a step to be taken from the official and unofficial meetings of OPEC members and non-OPEC countries to lead the way on price stability in the oil industry. While President Maduro was giving these messages, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev talked about the importance of cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan and mentioned that their investments in Turkey would soon reach $20 billion.
During the conference, it was seen that Turkey's importance in the energy industry is rising, by it hosting big energy projects like the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the Blue Stream, the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline and the Turkish Stream in cooperation with Russia. Sooner or later, there will be more pipelines fed by Eastern Mediterranean sources. With increasing costs and oil prices, it is now clear and more feasible to transport gas and oil using land-based pipelines in comparison with the high cost of sea transportation. This fact increases Turkey's importance, which is the main connection point for the countries and major consumers like Europe. While Turkey can contribute to the global energy market with its geographical positioning, the industry is also important for the country's long-term economic growth.
Cooperation for peace in the Middle East
Of course, these are not the only reasons that the WEC saw so much interest at a global level. The efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Erdoğan to recover relations between Turkey and Russia and their understandings on regional issues as well as their messages and bilateral agreements are critical for our region and for these countries. Just after this conference and meetings between the Turkish and Russian presidents, the decision by Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Russia and Turkey to meet this weekend about the Syrian crisis is also a positive outcome of the messages by these leaders.
Turkey hosted the WEC, which will be shaping the decisions of actors for the next 25 years in the global energy market, and is now waiting for the World Investment Summit to start in Istanbul in this weekend. The members of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) gathered in Istanbul yesterday to discuss the next period in the global economic environment. In the upcoming period, we will all witness Istanbul's transformation to a city where critical global decisions are being taken.
About the author
Kerem Alkin is an economist, professor at Istanbul Medipol University. He currently serves as the Turkish Permanent Representative to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).