In the next decade, Turkey will become a major transit country for natural gas into Europe. In a region where almost every country wants to become an energy hub in order to raise its geostrategic profile, Turkey’s elevated role is causing widespread alarm. Yet such concerns are misplaced: Turkey has little to gain and much to lose by abusing its position as a transit country for gas into Europe. Rather than engage in meaningless rivalry to become hubs, countries in the region should recognize that a new pipeline from Russia to Turkey could be a blessing in disguise if they can strengthen the market forces that will really deliver energy security for the region.
The European Union already gets a sliver of its gas needs via Turkey: a modest amount of Azerbaijani gas flows via Turkey into Greece, meeting 20 percent of that country’s demand in 2014. But within a decade, two pipelines will turn Turkey into a more significant transporter: the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) that will carry (at least) 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year into the Balkans and Italy; and the newly proposed and tentatively named Turk Stream pipeline that will establish a second link between Russia and Turkey and will allow Moscow to ship gas to southeast Europe via Turkey rather than (or in addition to) Ukraine.