Nabucco partners call for Baku's participation

Thu 09 Jun 2011 02:33 GMT | 06:33 Local Time

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US called on both Turkey and Azerbaijan to sign an agreement for the sale of natural gas 'as soon as possible.'

As the European Union’s flagship Nabucco project to pump Caspian gas to European markets inched one step closer to reality on Wednesday, 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-km 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 here", 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 the development of their energy markets and their direct access to European markets.

"Now it is the turn of source countries," said Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, 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 Yildiz.

South Stream, the Interconnector 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".

The US, 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, the US secretary of state's special envoy 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 US 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 US was not a party to the project, it believed the Southern Energy Eorridor, also including Nabucco, was critically important for the diversification of energy supplies.

Energy Minister Yildiz, 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 Yildiz. "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."

Talking to journalists, Yildiz said that the Nabucco project would certainly go ahead.

"Like all big projects, it is accompanied by a number of problems, but I think they will soon find their solution. I am very glad that the number of optimists overweighs the number of sceptics. This makes us hopeful that the project will be implemented. I remember that in the early 1990s many considered that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline would not be implemented and it was utopia, but it is now running successfully. I think in a few years, we will all be speaking about the successful operation of Nabucco," the minister said.

Hurriyet Daily News



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