President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during the sixth World Forum on Energy Regulation held in Istanbul earlier in the week that if the energy resources of the world remain under the ground and are not distributed fairly, it will lead to a war. However, if they are included in world trade and used for the good of all humankind, it will lead to peace.
Throughout the 20th century energy resources were tapped in amounts that would bring profit to energy monopolies rather than in amounts that would satisfy the need of humanity. A large portion of energy resources were kept under the ground, bringing no prosperity for humankind. However, the 21st century bears dynamics that can subvert this irrational reality. First of all, conventional energy resources, including fossil fuels, are being replaced by alternative energy resources such as renewables. Another reality that is just as important as the first one is that developing countries are laying claim to conventional energy resources and thus these resources are being tapped. As this situation continues, we will see that regional disparities in the world are being removed, countries are being connected to each other with energy lines and everyone makes use of rich energy resources - a development that brings a new dynamic of integration.
As is known, energy lines are constructed only in regions that have sustainable political stability, an open market and a transparent market economy. It is not possible to ensure the security of an energy line for the long haul by deploying security guards around it. So, political stability and peace are required to ensure energy security. The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) is a good example of this. As the central country of the SGC, the transmission and commercialization of Mediterranean, Iraqi and Caspian energy resources are in Turkey's hands. Moreover, Iran's energy resources will also transit through Turkey in the future. As a line that complements the SGC, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) was preferred to other energy investments such as the Nabucco-West pipeline. This was neither because of the low cost of the TAP nor because of the influence of companies and countries that joined and financed the TAP. This was mainly because of the EU's concerns about the security of its energy supply after 2030, its desire to diversify its energy supply and its wish to expand toward its east after the crisis. Although the EU does not officially verbalize this fact today, it was seen by everyone after Russia's annexation of Crimea. Today, the EU meets more than 60 percent of its energy requirement with Russian natural gas and the remainder is procured from northern countries such as Norway. However, these resources are not as abundant, economical and diversified as Middle Eastern and Caucasian resources.
The crux of the matter is that as soon as the EU begins to get out of the crisis, its greatest challenge will be energy transits. This is because Russia wants to expand the customs union that it established with Belarus and Kazakhstan, and to this end, it wants to annex Ukraine as well. What happens in Ukraine is nothing but a contention that will be experienced between Russia and the EU over the market and energy in the future. In this regard, Ukraine is not only a matter of national security for Russia, but it is also a supervision base for the Carpathians. Moreover, the Odessa and Sevastopol ports of Ukraine enable Russia to open up to the Mediterranean through the Black Sea, and northern energy transits are along these strategic ports.
The SGC and southern transit lines, the most important of which is the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, tells us of the EU's expansion toward its east as well as of the confrontation between Russia and the U.S.-centric West. In this case, one of the largest and most strategic investments of the 21st century is being made by the political will of the Turkish government, starting from Turkish territory and Turkish territorial waters. In addition to being the backbone of the SGC, the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project is the only outlet that will ensure the EU's energy security and energy supply security. This could be achieved only by a government that strives to establish political stability through democracy and that convinces the world of this. Erdoğan has taken this step as he believes that integration, which starts with energy, will bring peace and prosperity. Today, however, anti-Erdoğan figures, either intentionally or unintentionally, support Russia's aggressive and annexationist polices. Because, the fact that Turkey leads the SGC and takes along Azerbaijan means hampering Russia's annexationist policies and all undemocratic powers that have so far dominated the region, from the Middle East to the Caucasus, through energy.
It should be noted that the Middle East and the Caucasus's re-involvement in a war will be a great tragedy for humanity and will lead to a process that will be for the good of no one on the side of democracy. The subversion of political stability, the impairment of democracy and the halt of the democratization process that was initiated by Erdoğan in Turkey indicate that Europe is at the mercy of Russia and the EU project might collapse in the long run. Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin made fun of desperate Europe, saying: "You do not want natural gas, so will you heat with firewood like your ancestors? Then, you will have to go to Siberia to buy the firewood there," implying that Europeans are in need of Russia for firewood as well. Now it is time to decide whether Europe and the West are doomed to Russia and undemocratic methods, or it will choose integration for the sake of political stability, democracy and peace.
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