Hosting decision-makers in politics, business and scholarly world as well as in prominent think tanks, the 8th Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit, which was previously named Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit, will provide an effective platform to discuss energy, economy, finance and security issues in the region, covering Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and Europe through productive sessions scheduled for today and tomorrow. Focusing on the issues with which the international arena is currently preoccupied, the Summit will highlight Turkey's role in securing peace and stability in the region, stated Defne Sadıklar Arslan, director of the Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit, and Atlantic Council Turkey representative, in an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah before the summit.
Emphasizing that all the discussants in the summit are prominent figures from business, political and scholarly world, this summit will convene people who gather to decide on and resolve issues as well as to have a better projection on what is happening in the region. "For business people, it is necessary to have a better understanding of what is going on as they need to price the risks ensuing from the developments in the region," Arslan said and continued, "the summit, therefore, will be a good guidance for businessmen
Recalling that the Atlantic Council summits were titled "Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit, Arslan indicated that this year the Council introduced a change in the name of the event, and changed to "Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit".
Explaining why the name has been changed, Atlantic Council Turkey Director said, "Given all the developments in the region, it will be so hard to achieve any solution without Turkey, so not only Turkey's role can be extremely important, but we also need to emphasize the strategic role Turkey plays as a giant economy in the region."
One of the topics that the summit will discuss is the energy cooperation and trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, which is a delicate issue since countries in the region, Turkey, Northern Cyprus, Greek Cypriot Administration, Israel and Egypt and others which conduct explorative and drilling operations there, have not been able fully exploit the abundant reserves due to a regional political disputes over territorial sovereignty and security. The current situation has led many analysts and scholars to emphasize the necessity of multi-national cooperation and stability in the region to exploit the available resources.
When asked about plausibility of a permanent peace and stability in the region facilitated by transnational collaboration that could benefit all relevant parties in the region, Arslan noted that the summit will delicately address the issue and highlight Turkey's role in attaining peace and stability in the region as the issue greatly depends on Turkey's role.
Since both Israel and Russia are actors increasing their presence in the region, Turkey's engagement with both countries are a matter of significance and therefore two leading figures of energy from Israel are attending the summit as speakers, Arslan informed.
Moreover, the talks on the feasibility of a pipeline that will carry natural gas discovered in Eastern Mediterranean to Europe through Turkey is also on the agenda between the countries. Israel weighs a pipeline project to export the Eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe via a pipeline either through Turkey or Crete and Greece, while the latter is regarded much more costly compared to the first one.
"A route through Turkey would be very cost-effective compared to many other projects in the region," Arslan emphasized and noted difficulty commenting on the issue. "But this is a fact, it is basic arithmetic," she said, drawing attention to the fact that energy projects are not all about economics and finance, but they are also very political projects. Therefore the normalization process between Israel and Turkey, which was fueled by Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinizt's visit to Turkey to participate the panel hosted by the Atlantic Council along the lines of the World Energy Congress in October, is significant and so long as the process continues, the most viable project will be chosen, the director stated.
Turkey an important transit country
Drawing attention to the initiatives and endeavours of the Turkey's Ministry of Energy and Natural resources to secure the country's energy supply and make the country an important transit country betweent the energy importers and exporters by introducing such projects as Turk Stream with Russians and Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project (TANAP) with Azerbaijani government – both projects are designed to carry the Russian and Azerbaijani gas to Europe – Arslan underscored that Turkey also need to create an energy market which will determine the energy prices to become an energy hub in the region and added that the country has great potential to achieve that goal.
Another important element for upgrading Turkey's position to an energy hub is the efficient mixture of energy types, Arslan stated.
"Turkey needs more storage facilities for liquiefied natural gas (LNG), more renewable energy projects and definitely nuclear. Once Turkey becomes a producer and less dependent on imports then this will have a spillover impact on the energy prices, and the overall economy" Atlantic Council Turkey Director highlighted.
Arslan also pointed out that once Turkey becomes less dependent on energy imports, the country will have a strong say in the energy contracts that devises the framework of projects and prices. "Turkey needs to make contracts in such a way that it can actually can control the prices," she remarked.
8th Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit
The 8th Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit scheuled for today and tomorrow (27-28 April) bring together top business leaders as well as state leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA Region) who will generate ideas and take action regarding energy, the economy and security while seeking opportunities in the midst of increasing challenges. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to attend and participate as a keynote speaker on the second day of the summit, nearly two weeks after the successful referendum in Turkey, addressing more than 500 high-level attendees.
The summit, which focuses on providing solutions with a trans-Atlantic approach, will cover a wide range of issues including the refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, Turkey's relations with the U.S. and the EU, solutions to the economic and political problems in the eastern Mediterranean region, investment opportunities in Africa for energy infrastructure and private-public cooperation models in energy financing.