4/25/2008

IHT: Turkey uses gas pipe as leverage in EU talks

International Herald Tribune -Turkey is playing hardball in the geopolitical struggle over an $8 billion pipeline at the center of Europe's efforts to cut dependence on Russian natural gas. Turkey is trying to profit from its strategic location bridging Europe and Central Asia and to become a key part of Europe's energy plan. This might bolster its push to join the European Union - if its negotiating tactics don't exhaust Europe's patience. Europe wants Turkey to be a transit corridor along the Nabucco pipeline's route, which is to run 3,300 kilometers, or nearly 2,100 miles, from the Caspian Sea region to Austria. Turkey wants more control acting as a regional energy hub, collecting gas from the east, buying some domestically at below-market prices and passing on the rest to Europe for a variable fee. "Nabucco is a demonstration project of Turkey's intent to join the European Union," said Brendan Devlin, assistant to Jozias van Aartsen, the EU's Nabucco negotiator. "By delivering on this project, Turkey would clearly underline its importance to the EU."