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14 Oct, 2022 12:24

Erdogan backs Putin's gas hub proposal

Construction will begin as soon as possible, the Turkish leader says
Erdogan backs Putin's gas hub proposal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has backed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s idea of creating an international natural gas hub in Türkiye, to deliver Russian supplies to Europe. According to the Turkish leader, both he and Putin have now ordered their respective governments to present construction plans as soon as possible.

Erdogan said the two countries’ energy authorities will work together to designate the best spot to build the distribution center, which will most likely be in Türkiye’s northwest, in the Thrace region which borders Greece and Bulgaria.

“Together with Mr. Putin, we have instructed our Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the relevant institution on the Russian side to work together,” Erdogan told reporters on the presidential plane while returning from Kazakhstan on Thursday. 

“They will conduct this study. Wherever the most appropriate place is, we will hopefully establish this distribution center there,” he added, noting that while Türkiye already has a national distribution center, the new infrastructure will be the country’s first international gas hub.

The decision comes after a closed-door meeting between Erdogan and Putin on the sidelines of a regional summit in Astana on Thursday. The Russian president offered to build a major gas hub in Türkiye to handle supplies which were previously directed to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in the Baltic Sea. The pipeline, along with the as-yet unused Nord Stream 2, were severely damaged in a series of explosions in late September, which are widely considered to be the result of sabotage. 

Praising Türkiye as one of “the most reliable” partners for the transit of Russian fuel to Europe, Putin noted that an international gas hub would serve not only as a distribution platform, but could also be used for determining gas prices and avoiding “politicization” of the issue.

The Kremlin had previously urged Ankara to consider further developing its gas infrastructure after several people were detained in Russia for allegedly plotting to sabotage the TurkStream pipeline. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says the pipeline is now the only “fully functional, fully loaded and working as clockwork route” for Russian gas to reach Europe.