In this IPC-Mercator Policy Brief, Jörn Richert examines: Is Turkey's Energy Leadership Over Before it Began?
A strategy is a tool for successful policy-making. It systematically connects means to political ends. A strategic vision integrates individual ends under an overarching ambition. The strategic vision of Turkey’s energy policy, as declared in the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources’ Strategic Plan for 2010–2014, is to make Turkey “the leader in its region in energy” affairs.
Although regional energy leadership is at the heart of Turkey’s energy strategy, the concept lacks both a clear definition as well as empirical analysis. This analytical gap should be closed for three reasons. First, only if regional energy leadership is clearly defined can Turkey’s energy strategy be fully understood. Second, because of the centrality of energy leadership, analyzing its empirical reality is an integral part in evaluating Turkey’s energy political performance. A third reason concerns the means by which energy leadership shall be realized. The Strategic Plan puts major emphasis on one concrete means: transforming Turkey into an energy hub.The energy hub–energy leadership link postulated in the Strategic Plan, however, has not been scrutinized so far. It is therefore not clear, if being an energy hub would actually result in regional energy leadership. If the energy hub–energy leadership link does not hold, this would render Turkey’s energy strategy ineffective.
In this policy brief, I address these three aspects consecutively: I define regional energy leadership, evaluate Turkey’s leadership performance in the Southern Corridor, and discuss future options for Turkey’s energy strategy. In the context of the third aspect, I test the viability of the energy hub–energy leadership link. The analysis presents important challenges to Turkey’s energy strategy, as so far Turkey has not managed to become an energy leader. Moreover, the virtually certain construction of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will result in a significant change in regional energy interdependence, leaving little room for Turkish leadership in the future. If Turkey wants to become an energy leader, so I conclude, it needs to fundamentally re-think its energy strategy.
Jörn Richert is a Mercator-IPC Fellow at Istanbul Policy Center (IPC), Sabanci University
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