As the European Union’s flagship Nabucco project to pump Caspian gas to European markets inched one step closer Wednesday to becoming a reality, participant governments strongly urged potential suppliers including Azerbaijan to clarify their position and join the project “without delay.”
Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iraq are considered as potential sources to fill the 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline that will run from Turkey to Austria, crossing Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
“I have contacts with Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iraq. If all these countries wish to access European and Turkish markets, the possibility is Nabucco,” EU Energy Commissioner Guenther H. Oettinger said during a ceremony for the signing of technical deals in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri on Wednesday.
The commissioner called on the source countries, “who are not there,” to take part in the strategic project “without any delay.” Azerbaijan did not send any representative to the ceremony despite the Turkish Energy Ministry’s invitation.
“Nabucco must take the final step from project to reality but there are issues that need to be addressed,” said Oettinger, adding that gas-producing states particularly Iraq and Azerbaijan must be given options for development of their energy markets and their direct access to European markets.
Open invitation to Russia and Iran
“Now it is the turn of source countries,” said Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, hosting the event in his election constituency and hometown Kayseri.
The minister gave a green light for two other countries, Russia and – if the political conjecture allows, Iran – to join the project.
“No matter if it is Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, or if it is Russia and Iran – if the global conjecture permits – there are projects for all of them where their interests overlap,” said Yıldız.
South Stream, Interconnect Turkey-Greece-Italy and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline were among the projects the minister listed and urged the potential suppliers to see the “big picture.”
“What’s in this big picture? To meet energy needs of the European countries,” he said.
The project support agreements signed between the participant governments and the consortium of the Nabucco gas transit pipeline project, considered prerequisite for the successful financing of the project, also offered a platform for the governments and a strong supporter of the project, the United States, to discuss the present situation.
[HH] US calls for Turk-Azeri gas deal
The U.S., meanwhile, called on both Turkey and Azerbaijan to sign an agreement for the sale of natural gas “as soon as possible.”
“I look forward to seeing the next step,” said Richard Morningstar, special envoy of the U.S. Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy, who joined the ceremony in Kayseri.
“I hope this will be done as soon as possible because it is critically important for the success of project,” he said.
The U.S. official reiterated the huge importance President Barak Obama places on the Nabucco project, saying it also symbolized “long-standing, very strong relationship between the United States and Turkey that goes back many years.”
Morningstar said although the U.S. is not a party to the project, it believed the southern energy corridor also including Nabucco was critically important for the diversification of energy supplies.
EU message from Energy Minister
Energy Minister Yıldız, in his speech, sent a message to the European Union, saying Turkey was doing its best to meet Europe’s energy needs despite negative signals coming from the EU with regard to Turkish accession talks.
“Turkey did its best for a solution to EU countries’ problems without expecting anything in return,” said Yıldız. “And we expect the same treatment from the EU. It is evident that Turkey needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey. I want to say it again that it is not correct to delay Turkey’s EU talks for political reasons.”