Following the June 7 general elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is scheduled to pay his first foreign visit to Azerbaijan on Friday. Erdoğan is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the visit. In the present conjuncture, Erdoğan's visit to Azerbaijan and meeting with Putin are two major strategic steps, considering that Turkey is now a key country in terms of energy sharing and is the center of energy and commercial transit lines in its region. Last year, Putin's visit to Turkey was also a significant one, since it led to the surprisingly scrap of the South Stream and brought the Turkish Stream to the agenda.In terms of regional political balances, the replacement of the South Stream by the Turkish Stream is not only a step regarding energy, but also a major move that will carry Russian gas to Europe through Turkey. It is remarkable that during last year's visit, Putin came to the table with Turkey regarding Russia's technology transfer. Russia wants to further converge with Turkey in order to control Azeri and Turkmen energy lines independently from the West. In this regard, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow's recent visit to Turkey was as important as Putin's. The commercialization of Turkmen gas through Turkey is a development that will complement the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) and will accelerate the process in which Turkey will become an energy hub. Turkey connects Azerbaijan to Georgia with energy transit lines such as the South Caucasus Pipeline (Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum Pipeline) and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Crude Oil Pipeline. Thus, Turkey connects the territories in its south and west with energy transit lines. The fact that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) cannot come to power alone does not change this reality, since Turkey's energy strategy is a continuous state policy. Today, the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) is the backbone of the SGC. Apart from this transit energy line that connects Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, the fact that Azeri gas directly reaches the European market is not only an energy move, but also an important step that will make Europe expand toward the east. This move means the de facto expansion of the EU's borders to Baku in spite of Germany and Russia. This is why Turkey regards all these transits not only as energy projects, but also as projects of peace, democracy and integration. It should be noted that the monopoly of a strategic commodity such as natural gas, which determines business cycles, means the lack of democracy in the whole region where that monopoly and monopolistic price prevails. As such, let us propound a thesis as follows: The fact that Turkey and Azerbaijan are starting to nourish the European market through the SGC means price regulation in Europe, Turkey and Asia Minor will not remain limited. In this case, the SGC and the Turkish Stream will properly operate market mechanisms regarding energy security and energy prices.
The peaceful integration of the region means a newly unified hinterland that starts from the Balkans and the east, covers Turkey and Georgia and reaches Azerbaijan. Therefore, Turkey will expedite its Energy Stock Market (EPİAŞ) project. Let us underline that these are supra-government state policies. The other project that complements TANAP is the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, which is the main line of the New Silk Road. Just like TANAP, this railway line not only connects three countries, but it is also one of the basic commercial outlets and transport projects of Kazakh and Turkmen ports, as well as of Asia and Europe. Central Asia is connected to Turkey (Marmaray) through the the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway through the Caspian region. This line, along with the SGC, will connect Chinese ports to Europe through Turkey.
The world economy and politics are heading toward greater integration. We are moving toward a kind of capitalism where structural differences, such as economic efficiency, technology, labor costs, infrastructure, environment and education will gradually be eliminated on a global level. Such discrepancies should be removed for the survival of the system in the long run. The previous period's system paradigm was based on these differences and the differences between developed countries and other regions were an inevitable consequence of this situation. Now we are leaving behind this period. Customs unions, free trade agreements, the assimilation of standards, the free circulation of labor and infrastructural investments that will eliminate the differences in productivity have started everywhere simultaneously.
Within this framework, the change of governments in strong countries like Turkey is not that important. Turkey's political stability also means energy security for the EU and the entire West. This is why Erdoğan's visit to Azerbaijan and meeting with Putin are strategic steps. It is no secret that there are some circles in the EU wanting an instable Turkey. However, they should know that Turkey's instability will also be to the detriment of Europe. Like it or not, Turkey's economic and political stability is held by a single authority: Erdoğan. Therefore, everyone should think one more time about Erdoğan's strategic importance.