Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Turkey's Energy Strategy: Synchronizing Geopolitics and Foreign Policy with Energy Security

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Turkey's Energy Strategy: Synchronizing Geopolitics and Foreign Policy with Energy Security

Article excerpt


This article elaborates Turkey's recent energy strategy with regard to market characteristics, geopolitical issues and foreign policy priorities. It points to Turkey's growing energy demand as one of the most significant factors that affect the country's policies. The increase in domestic energy demand raises energy security not only as an urgent matter that awaits affordable and sustainable solutions, but also as an important issue that is highly effective in building regional and global relations.

The link between: (1) the tangible characteristics of energy security (amount, price, timing, location and sustainability); and (2) foreign policy priorities that simultaneously embrace tangible (e.g. bilateral and multilateral relations and agreements concerning trade, military and cooperation) and intangible parameters (e.g. ideals, principles, identity politics and soft power instruments), emerges as an important problematic that deserves further elaboration.

To do this, the following sections analyze Turkey's energy strategy and elaborate how it responds to current challenges by striking a compromise between market characteristics, and geopolitics and foreign policy. The main assumption of this article is that the tangible parameters of energy security are highly linked to the increase in domestic demand which in turn must be balanced with geopolitics and foreign policy issues; and channel cooperation with the concerned actors despite short-term or long-term political problems.

The first section, with conceptual and figurative highlights, gives a brief picture of the energy security challenges that Turkey faces. The second part focuses on Turkey's official energy strategy (Turkey's Energy Strategic Plan 2009-2014, as introduced by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, MENR) to understand how, and to what extent, the policies respond to Turkey's challenges and support the main hypothesis of this article. (1) The conclusion discusses the findings and conceptual highlights of the article in order to provide an insight as to how energy security balances geopolitical motives and foreign policy goals on behalf of international cooperation.

The Calculus of Turkey's Energy Security

Energy security is meant to guarantee a sufficient amount of resources at affordable prices whenever and however the demand arises. In this regard, Turkey's energy security is based on the availability of resources at affordable prices and sustainable processes. (2) Turkey's geographical features encourage international oil and gas transport projects. However, it is not possible to identify Turkey's energy strategy as if it merely stems from a geopolitical agenda. Instead, Turkey's energy strategy arises from policy priorities as much as market characteristics. On the policy side, economic concerns and trade opportunities appear to be effective motivators behind Turkey's strategy. On the market side, the growth of Turkey's domestic energy demand leads to initiatives to diversify supplies and suppliers. (3) As shown in Box 1, Turkey's energy policies and investments are highly responsive to domestic demand as well as to international oil and gas pipeline projects. (4)

The increase in domestic demand puts pressure on Turkey's need to guarantee supplies from an energy security perspective. (5) Although state and governmental institutions remain important actors in the arena of domestic supply, it should be acknowledged that Turkey has entered an era of liberalization. The state, indeed, considered liberalization and privatization as an important means to accelerate infrastructure investments and support supply security. (6)

Box 1--Energy in Turkey: Fast Growing Market with Transit

Turkey's importance in the energy market stems from its status as a
regional transit hub, given its location between the oil-rich
Middle East, the Caspian region, and Europe. … 
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