‘Example of cooperation for the world’: Putin & Erdogan hail new gas pipeline as Middle East tensions boil
With regional tensions flaring, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed the launch of the near-1,000km TurkStream gas pipeline as an example of international cooperation.
“We live in a difficult world, and unfortunately, in the region we’re in now, there are tendencies for the worsening of the situation,” Putin said at the pipeline’s inauguration ceremony in Istanbul on Wednesday, referring to ongoing tensions in Iran, Iraq and Syria.
But Turkey and Russia are showing a very different feat: an example of reciprocity and cooperation of our people, of Europe’s people, and those of the entire world. I am sure we’ll be even more successful in the future.
He added that the ambitious project was “for the good of both our nations and our neighbors.”
“Turkey does not want any global disagreement or escalation of tensions,” Erdogan declared, taking the stage next, before asking his country’s Mediterranean neighbors to make the region a “center of cooperation.”
However, Turkey’s eastern neighbors are currently in turmoil. A series of tit-for-tat strikes in Iraq have pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war. Erdogan disagrees with Moscow’s support for the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, and Ankara is also seeking to wade into Libya’s civil war to prop up the government in Tripoli.
“The region has been bleeding for a long time and unfortunately from Iraq to Syria, millions of our innocent brothers have paid with their lives,” Erdogan said. “The center of the Islamic civilization is basically destroyed, brother turns on brother. Other countries from outside have tried to make use of it, to interfere, starting from Iraq.”
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We’ll continue to use our diplomacy, all of the tools that we have, to prevent our region from becoming a region of blood and tears
Buried under the Black Sea, the TurkStream pipeline has a capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, and its two lines supply Turkey, as well as southern and southeastern Europe. The pipeline was completed in the face of the United States threatening sanctions, and reduces Europe’s reliance on gas transited through Ukraine.
With Russian gas flowing to Turkish shores and onward to Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary will also receive gas once new pipelines are constructed.
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