What does the Turkstream pipeline mean for Europe?
The presidents of Turkey and Russia, Erdoğan and Putin, officially opened the Turkstream gas pipeline on Wednesday. The 930-kilometer-long pipeline runs through the Black Sea and is to supply not just Turkey but also southeastern Europe with Russian natural gas. Commentators discuss why Moscow and Ankara have cause to celebrate.
EU's dwindling influence in the Balkans
Europe's moaning about the Balkan states' involvement in the Turkstream project is uncalled for, writes Michael Martens, Southeast Europe correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
“Moscow and Ankara are gaining access to part of the energy security in the fragile, small-state region of Southeast Europe. This is not a reassuring prospect for the EU, whose influence is also dwindling because since Macron's veto of accession talks with Albania and northern Macedonia last year the prospect of EU membership is no longer credible. If the EU, Berlin and Paris do not assume a more active role they will continue to fall behind in Southeast Europe.”
Russia as a calm anchor in the global storm
State news agency Ria Novosti commends Russia for assuming a peacemaking role by opening the pipeline in the midst of a scene of war:
“Russia is setting a model example of planned work that isn't disrupted by external storms. Its influence is great enough that even countries that tend to use harsh words and actions adopt a far calmer and more balanced attitude towards it. This includes Turkey, which, even though it has repeatedly taken offence over differences with Russia (most recently about Libya), is on the whole acting within the framework of a well-established cooperation. Russia has become a new centre - ready to stop the world from sliding into chaos and to construct a new global system. Moscow is offering simple rules for all: constructive cooperation based on pragmatism and mutual benefit.”
Peace through trade
The new pipeline has the potential to reduce the risk of conflict between two major powers, the pro-government Daily Sabah believes:
“The greatest economic contribution of TurkStream and similar projects is the generation of further economic ties between Turkey and Russia. As economic interdependencies increase between countries, their conflicts decrease. Both countries have more to lose should politicians on either side of the Black Sea disagree on a particular issue and move to freeze relations. ... This potential loss leads to lobbying on the respective governments by business leaders who help to avoid conflict. This isn't just good news for Turkey and Russia but also good news for the NATO alliance.”