Turkey realized EU dream through energy: Latvia amb.

ANKARA - Turkey have realized the European dream of natural gas diversification without becoming a member of the European Union, according to Latvian Ambassador to Turkey, Iran and Iraq, Atis Sjanits.

"There is no doubt that Turkey is becoming more important as an energy transit country. I’m an ambassador of three countries and I follow these energy files. Turkey is becoming the main southern transit hub for natural gas, maybe also for oil," Sjanits said.

According to Sjanits, the latest Turkish government showed that Turks might see the European dream becoming true without being an EU member.

"You have realized the European dream of EU diversification of natural gas. Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran's supplies of gas to Turkey and Russia have increased Turkey's supplies.

He added that if there is an agreement with Iran, it could become the main alternative supplier to Europe transiting through Turkey.

"We know that Iraq, which is the closest country to Turkey, is very interested in supplying gas. So it’s very clear that Turkey will diversify its natural gas sources and this is a good opportunity for Turkey to set good pricing levels," he said.

-Turkey’s EU membership

Sjanits explained that Latvia has good bilateral relations with Turkey which has been reflected during the last two years with three official presidential visits. He reiterated that the country definitely supports Turkey's EU membership. 

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987, and accession talks began in 2005. However, negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 due to Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue and with the German and French governments' opposition to its full EU membership.

To obtain its membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters, which involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

"Energy is not the main factor of Turkey’s EU membership because Turkey is too big to be a 'one issue country'. It is a big regional player, and I try to remind my colleagues that Turkey is a country with the size of Germany. This makes Turkey a very important country for political solutions in the region. It is a big challenge for Europe to accept such a big country. Normally when countries join the EU, the EU changes them, however, if Turkey joins the EU, Turkey may change the EU," he said.

So far, 14 chapters have been opened while 17 remains blocked, and a further four have yet to be discussed. Only one chapter has been opened in the past three years.

"Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn was in Ankara in December and we did our best to assist him on Turkey. We will do our best to try to open new chapters for the membership negotiation process, but of course it also depends on the other 27 countries," he said.

Hahn visited Ankara in December, 2014 and stated that there might be room to re-launch Turkey's accession negotiations with the EU.

Hahn explained negotiations are part of the process and said that “we have to see further developments from Turkey to this end."

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