Putin: Russia did not renounce Turkish Stream project

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 08.06.2016 23:31
Updated 08.06.2016 23:32
Putin: Russia did not renounce Turkish Stream project

Russian President Putin claimed that Russia is still willing to proceed with the Turkish Stream project to carry gas to Europe over the Turkish-Greek border, but said that political issues with Turkey ongoing

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not renounce the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline project, which was planned to carry natural gas to Europe over the Turkish-Greek border, but that Russia nevertheless still has some ongoing political issues with Turkey.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow, Putin said Russia is willing to proceed with the Turkish Stream, and regarding the process of the giant project, he stressed it is necessary that the European Commission make a clear decision concerning the determination of its role in the project, which he said remains unclear.

At the same press conference, Putin said in the case that Europe does not want to import the Russian natural gas, Russia will find alternative export markets, adding that Russia will continue its negotiations with Israel as well.

According to a Russian news agency RIA Novosti report in March, regarding the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline project, Gazprom Board of Directors member Oleg Aksyutin said that they are waiting for relations between Russia and Turkey to return to normal. "After relations between the two countries return to normal, the signing process of the agreement between the two governments will become clear," Aksyutin said. He said that the project will strengthen Gazprom's situation in Europe and that natural gas delivery risks will be eliminated and trust in Russian gas will be restored.

The natural gas trade between Turkey and Russia became an issue after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 jet on Nov. 24 for violating Turkish airspace along the Syrian border. Political tensions were followed by Russia imposing economic and trade sanctions on Turkey. The Russian government banned Turkish products from entering Russia and began refusing work permits to Turkish workers in Russia. While Moscow has damaged its reputation as a reliable trade partner in Ankara's eyes, Gazprom announced that it will continue to supply gas promised under the agreement.

During his visit to Turkey in December 2014, Putin announced that Moscow had scrapped the South Stream pipeline project, that would have carried Russian natural gas to Europe via Bulgaria, and replaced it with the planned Turkish Stream pipeline. The Turkish Stream was designed to carry natural gas to Europe over the Turkish-Greek border, but negotiations over a possible natural gas deal between Turkey and Russia have encountered constant delays due to both parties push for the other to sign the deal first.

The first direct gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey was the Blue Stream, commissioned in 2005, with an expansion plan later replaced by the South Stream, itself abandoned in 2014. In 2009, Putin proposed a line parallel to the Blue Stream 1 under the Black Sea from Samsun to Ceyhan and further to Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus.

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