Turkey and Russia are much more naturally geopolitical allies than opponents.
Russia has indicated that it is ready to restart negotiations on the Turkish Stream gas transport project, after the Turkish president sent an official apology for the downing of a Russian military plane. The incident happened last year amid growing tensions with regard to Syria and provoked Russia to slam Turkey with economic sanctions.
Now, it seems, the road is once again clear for the two countries’ newest energy project. Turkish Stream has been largely seen as an alternative to South Stream, which was to pass through Bulgaria but faced major opposition from the European Commission, so it was more or less shelved indefinitely. Still, earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin told media that Russia is not giving up either of these.
Talks on Turkish Stream started two years ago. The pipeline was to have a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year, of which 16 billion cubic meters would be used by Turkey. The remainder would be collected in a hub at the border between Turkey and Greece, before being distributed to Europe.
The cooling of the two countries’ relationships after the plane shoot-down last year put an end to negotiations. The bilateral situation worsened further recently, when it surfaced that Romania and Turkey are mulling over a new Black Sea fleet, aimed at protecting the region from potential Russian aggression. Russia did not look kindly upon this initiative and made this very clear.
Turkey and Russia have strategic importance for each other, especially in the energy sector. Their respective political agendas are very different, however, and could put a spoke in the wheels of energy cooperation. Then again, energy may very well trump political priorities.