The Role of Turkey in the European Energy Policy. Problems and Perspectives

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2016

41 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of contents


1.1 Liberalism
1.2 Neoliberalist approach

2.1. Turkey’ geo-energy positions
2.2. EU’s geo-energy positions
2.3. Turkey’s energy interests in EU
2.4. EU energy interests in Turkey

3.1. Perspectives in Turkish-European energy relations
3.2. Challenges in Turkish-European energy relations


List of bibliography and sources



The relevancy of the research: Over the historical course, the EU’s growing demands for energy resources compel it to undertake significant steps regarding how to preserve energy security and procure the diversification of gas supplies from different countries for the future generation. It is undeniable fact that the maintenance of energy security is one of the pivotal interests of Europe in the contemporary world. Currently, energy is significant to the process of both economic and social development in Europe. The diversification of energy supplies and even source countries was taken as the primary ambition by the EU. Over the historical periods, growing energy needs of the EU have put the strategic policies ahead toward other non-member states, especially resource-rich countries. In this part, Turkey and the EU relations in the energy field will be analyzed. Throughout the period, the relations between Turkey and the EU have undergone many ups and downs. Even today, the world is under the shadow of political turmoil, challenges, and crisis which have huge implications to Europe as well as other countries. Therefore, the EU wants to get secure, uninterrupted energy resources from geographically safe regions. Regarding Turkey, the EU comprehends that in fact, Turkey can be a good transit partner if she could take enforcement measures and reforms to provide its security from in and outside, otherwise, Turkey who wants to be a major interconnector between different pipelines in the major energy-rich regions; GCS, MENA countries might not make a deal with the EU. Turkish and European relations are promising for the coming decades, if they take a mutual deal and shared interests concerning the development of energy infrastructures, liberalization of the market economy, the involvement of new technologies, Turkey’s permission for the exploration in Cyprus, opening up of 15th Chapter with Greece. the diversification of energy supplies and even source countries was taken as the primary ambition of the West. Turkey as a major regional power, strives for attaining its goals regarding access to alternative energy resources, maintenance of energy security, gaining authoritative power over grand energy projects and etc. Generally, for the future perspectives there can be opportunities for Turkish-European relations in energy field, however, the relationship still depends on the development of historical period that will show what will happen between the two major actors

The object of the research: Energy is considered as the main object in the development of relations between Turkey and the EU.

The aim of the research: to analyze the increasing energy role of Turkey and its influence on European energy policy.

The tasks of the research:

1. to identify the geo-energy interests and positions of Turkey and EU respectively
2. to scrutinize Turkey and the EU energy policy within last decades;
3. to analyze the future perspectives and dynamics in Turco-European relations;
4. to identify the main causes of challenges in the relations;

The problem of research: to investigate whether Turkey can be a good or bad transit country or an energy hub for the EU’s energy security for future decades in terms of getting access to diversified gas supplies and even source countries.

The methodology of the research: The study is based on qualitative research method. Research methods such as book analysis, a comparative method, an analytical method and a descriptive method are used in the research. In order to evaluate the trends of relations between two states, a historical method also was used in the research. The analytical method mainly focuses on how Turkey whether a “good” or a “bad” transit country can influence the EU’s energy policy. The descriptive method devotes to evaluate or describe the relations between them by referring to certain events and trends.

Main Literature: In this part, the researcher referred to different monographs from well-known scholars. The study sources are based on materials that collected from books of scholars, mainly monographs in scholarly articles, working papers, annual strategic plans and framework laws in Russian, Turkish and English language. The study sources are based on materials that collected from books of scholars, scholarly articles, working papers and annual strategic plans of two states and important databases namely, Oxford Journal Online, SAGE, JSTOR, Cambridge Journal, Carnegie Endowment Center for International Peace journal, Taylor&Francis group and etc. The source also included academic research materials, reports, that had been published by leading think tanks and research institutions specialized mostly in Turkey and the EU countries.

The structure of the research: According to tasks, the research paper is composed of three main parts. The first chapter devotes to the theoretical framework and attempts to identify the main role of energy from the prism of neorealist approach. Geo-energy positions and interests of Turkey and the EU were separately underlined at the second chapter and the third part is dedicated to dynamics of relations between them in terms of challenges that they are facing and opportunities for the coming years.


This chapter mainly draws attention on the theoretical analysis of the study. The first sub-chapter focuses on definition of the liberalism theory and its appropriateness to the chosen topic The second sub-chapter devotes to analyze the role of Turkey in European energy policy from the prism of liberalism, mainly neoliberalist paradigm. The main thoughts and standpoints of Immanuel Kant, Thomas Paine, John Locke, R. Keohane, J. Nye, Michael W. Doyle, Kenneth W. Abbott and Duncan Snidal and others were mentioned in this chapter.

1.1 Liberalism

In world politics, liberalism as a social scientific theory considers the state as the pivotal unit of analysis, at the same time; it gives a more way to international law, international organizations, non-governmental organization, and other non-state actors as the important actors of international relations. According to liberal theorists, the international relations are not about a zero-sum, game which is claimed by realist scholars; instead, liberalists argue that international relations are composed of a system of interactions which envisage the potential for mutual gains and benefits. Therefore, liberalists state that within an international system collaborative and peaceful appoaches and thoughts concerning the liberalism theory.

The famous scholar of liberalism theory Immanuel Kant in his book called “Perpetual Peace” underlined the significance of the creation of a peace program that can be applied by each nation state to ensure the durable peace within society. His peace program required the close cooperation, secure freedom, and shared benefits between not only states but also individuals. Such a prominent idea was the Democratic Peace theory underlining that democratic states do not fight against each other and mainly, pursue themselves to secure justice, freedom and trust within society.[1]

John Locke who can be considered as a father of liberalism theory after Immanuel Kant mentioned in his prominent masterpiece Rights of a Man that society had long survived in spite of the absence of a proper government. The government could be legitimate only where people made a social contract to establish it. The social contract is based on liberal project and democratic principles. Hence, people having mutual rights and interests in order to provide their needs create a proper government that is based on a common sense of social groups and finally, democratic principles. These democratic principles should have to be provided within the human society through mutual understanding and equal rights.[2] Even Burchill who characterizes war as a cancer on the body politic, cites to Thomas Payne, and argues that people want peace, but their governments have huge interests in creating wars.[3]

Michael W. Doyle in his article, called Liberalism and World Politics argues that republican government and democratic capitalism are more prone to harmonize the interstate relations and pursue the democratic peace theory which mainly condemns to make war against each other.[4] Contemporary liberalists, Keohane, Robert O., and Joseph S. Nye in their Power and Interdependence primarily underline not only the importance of research on economic and political interdependence but also the implementation of non-military instruments of power in international relations, to a large extent they take economic power and soft power into consideration.[5]

Liberalism theory also investigates the states behaviors and actions in the international plane but is more inclined to scrutinize the role of others or other groups as well. According to liberalist scholars in international relations, military power is not the only form of power between states and emphasizes the necessity of the economic and social form of power that can be able to make a mutual compromise or deal between parties. The use of economic power is much more applicable rather than the exercising of military power.

Moreover, for Kenneth W. Abbott and Duncan Snidal, the international organization has a significant role to take decisive actions or measures concerning whether this or another process to attain a mutual deal among states, at the same time, they can assist to boost up the relations, cooperation, trust and prosperity. They even ensure a stable negotiating forum, and aid to enhance iteration and reputational effects. Thus with the involvement of international institutions and increasing interdependence states have the huge opportunity to solve the conflicts or cope with other disputes in international system.[6]

According to Keohane, Robert O., and Joseph S. Nye interdependence has three pivotal components which show the state's interaction in different ways; economic, (trade), financial and cultural instruments, security can not be characterized the primary aim in state-to-state relations, and finally, militaristic power are not typically used. From this standpoint, it can be stated that liberalism supports the mutual interaction between not only states but also others, by doing so they can maximize prosperity, stable relations, even mutual bargaining between them, and minimize disputes as well. Even, as Moravcsik explains, through the involvement of political or international institutions, individuals or states will be able to cooperate with one another to reach a mutual deal on their common objectives and goals.[7]

Hence, liberalists disagree with the opinion of realist and basically, support the ideas of absolute power rather than relative power in international relations. In the following part, the application of neoliberalism theory to energy security will be examined and it is clear that currently energy relations between states mainly depend on economic interdependence and cooperation which the main aspects of interdependence was pursued by liberalist scholars above. In this case, liberalism especially neoliberalist approach is more applicable to the research topic.

1.2 Neoliberalist approach

Neoliberalism is a school of thoughts which holds the opinion that states should have to concerned with absolute power rather than relative power towards other states. Unlike realism theory, neoliberalism scholars point out that under the shadow of anarchic system of rational states, there is a potential for the emergence of collaboration between nation states through the involvement of international or political institutions, regimes, rule of law and different legal norms which are inclined to the establishment of mutual deal, trust and freedom between states. The concept of neoliberalism offers a specific part of a development of the liberal school of thought. Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye who are considered as the founders of the neoliberal school of thought brought the special paradigm to the stage of international relations called Complex interdependence which compose of three key assumptions; states are the main units and focal actors of international relations, however the role of international organizations, institutions, and other non-state actors also have to be underlined here, secondly, force is an effective instrument of state’s policy with the only exception of military-related power, and finally, a hierarchy is available in the world politics.[8] Today, there is one reality that neoliberalism in the modern world politics, is a set of economic policies that up to date, has been keeping its dominance during the last two decades.

David Harvey in his A Brief History of Neoliberalism gives the main wide-ranging definition of neoliberalism, and in particular, the interconnection between neoliberalism and political economic policy. According to him, neoliberalism is the first example of a theory of political economic policy which envisages that the development of human well-being and social welfare can only be possible by liberating or harmonizing individual freedoms and skills within an institutional framework which is characterized by strong privatization, access to free market economy as well as free trade.[9] From here the main goal of nation states is to set up and maintain an institutional framework in the international system. At the same time, states have to also establish military, defense and other institutional legal structures in order to not only secure private property rights but also ensure well functioning of markets. The pivotal points of neo-liberalism include the rule of the market focusing on free or private enterprise from any kind of obligations imposed by the state or government, cutting public spendings for social services, deregulation process, privatization, broad access to the liberal market economy, and free trade. Over the historical course, it is clear that neo-liberalism has been implemented by dominant financial institutions such as IMF, the World Bank, WTO.

The main reason to apply for this theory is to analyze the applicability of the theory to the energy policy of EU. Because of the fact that today, EU offers green energy proportion, environment-friendly technologies, broad access to the flexible energy market, even interconnection for a flexible market in energy products with other non-member states. Neo-liberalist paradigm shows itself in these policies taken by EU. Energy security basics are currently at stake, after the Ukrainian crisis of 2014. Although in some cases, for example gaining access to other resource-rich areas by the EU in terms of providing its huge interests somehow can be understood from the paradigm of realism, but in general, the main aim is to ensure free market accessibility, access to the new technologies and energy infrastructures, and liberal economic relations with other countries.

Here, neo-liberalism can be able to interpret the research topic, for example, the diversification of energy supplies of the EU that can open the green path to the new-fangled energy transportations, platforms, and infrastructures and provide the interests of consumers, mainly by creating the free and stable market with affordable prices. Furthermore, the creation of much more stable, well-functioning, and flexible global energy market for the energy exported countries give a chance for them in order to sell their energy products at suitable costs. Providing the stability of global market can enhance the accessibility and affordability of energy products among consumers and exporters. In fact, for all consumers security dwells in the flexible and stable market.[10]

The next chapter given below will interpret the major aim of EU and Turkey in energy policy and will scrutinize the energy interests of each of them as well. Neo-liberalism in this given issue, will explain the major trajectories of European-Turko relations in energy policy that they strive for gaining access to not only flexible energy market, but also new energy infrastructures and technologies.


The second chapter investigates the geo-energy positions and interests of Turkey and the EU in energy sector in accordance with diversification of sources, increased use of renewable and indigenous resources, energy efficiency and conservation. The first two sub-chapters analyze main positions of both Turkey and the EU regarding how they can secure their future energy resources and get access to diversified energy sources as well. The second two sub-chapters depict Turkish-European energy interests respectively in accordance with Turkish dream of being an energy hub and a transit state between East and West, and the European goal of procuring new gas supplies from alternative energy sources.

2.1. Turkey’ geo-energy positions

Currently, Turkey seeks to increase domestic resources by liberalizing its energy market and to provide its energy efficiency by organizing economic and energy projects. One of the main goals of Turkey in the energy sector is to provide the sufficient energy supply for the growing economic demands that currently considered as a top of Turkish agenda. The diversified energy supplies have a greater focus of attention for Turkey than others fields including market reforms and environmental issues. Generally, it cannot be said that Turkish neglects other fields, but mainly concern on the security of energy supplies and diversification. Turkey has taken the way of multidimensional strategy in order to attain its goals of energy infrastructure investments, access to affordable energy prices and sustainable and secure energy growth.

In the late of 1990s, Turkey started to reform its energy market and took a new flexible approach towards the energy security of the country. The main aim was to ensure the national security and the growing demands of energy at the same time. In the meantime, Turkey launched the program that undertook the privatization and liberalization process of distribution companies and implemented the cost-effective wholesale tariffs.[11]

In 2009, Turkish Prime Ministry launched its Electricity Energy Market and Supply Security Paper which envisaged the future energy roadmap of Turkey. In the energy roadmap, the liberalization of the energy sector, especially electricity, even gaining broad access to the investments, creating a competitive market, preparing a flexible investment environment, encouraging new technologies and infrastructure was considered as the main priorities of Turkish energy policy.[12] Currently, the increasing role of Turkey for European energy security is an undeniable fact, therefore EU should have to comprehend that although some political challenges and implications in Turkey, it remains the main influential power not only in the Caucasian region but also in the Middle East and North Africa. Nowadays, Turkey’s energy consumption is increasing and becoming more and more dependent on imports. Thus, Turkey is suffering from climate change, some kind of economic problems and diversified energy supplies. Although Turkey has alternative energy resources but it has a lack capability of using new infrastructures and technologies. According to DPT statistics in 2009, oil, coal and natural gas will keep their dominance as prime sources up to 2025.[13] (See Annex 1 below) Turkey’s energy profile is multidimensional, but in some way, was already mentioned above that has a huge dependency on oil, coal and natural gas.

Concerning natural gas, Turkey has a different story. It became important after the exploration of natural gas in 1970, in the Thracian part of Turkey. After six years from that time, natural gas was piped to Istanbul to produce electricity in order to decrease the dependency on Bulgaria. Turkish industrial and household consumers have a high-level dependency on natural gas. In Turkey, demands for natural gas are increasing significantly and the proportion of natural gas is expected to rise in Turkish primary energy consumption.[14]

Due to increasing demands for natural gas resources, Turkey has signed a different kind of flexible energy contracts and purchase and sale agreements to secure its future for the natural gas demands. The first natural gas contract was signed with the Soviet Union in 1986 in order to meet its demands for natural gas; the contract envisaged the delivery of 6 bcm to Turkey.[15] Today, Turkey has different take or pay contracts with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. It is historical fact that the first gas delivering to Turkey has been via BTE natural gas pipeline. Due to the problems with the building of planned Trans-Caspian Pipeline, it was impossible for Turkmen gas to reach Turkish territory, even though there is an agreement between Turkey and Turkmenistan. According to the oil resources in Turkey which constitute for around 30 percent of Turkish total energy requirements, unlike natural gas and solid fuels, to date, has not been used as a major electricity production in Turkey. Turkish increasing demands for natural gas forces her to take decisive steps towards renewables energy resources like hydropower, solar and wind energy resources and etc. Turkey’s oil products are limited and scattered around the country. For instance, Hakkari Basin is the main oil-rich area, which is located in the southeast part of Turkey, but generally, it is old and costly to exploit it. In fact, Turkey has also huge oil prospects in its European provinces, in the shelf region of Black Sea, in particular, southern and south-eastern part of Turkey. Simultaneously, there are also oil-reserved areas and oil-rich resources in the shelf region of Aegean and Mediterranean, but due to some kind of challenges and territorial disputes between Turkey and Greece, those oil resources have not been explored up to 2010. Currently, TPAO continues the exploration of oil and gas resources in these areas.

Solid fuels resources in Turkey constitutes for around 31 % of its natural resources. 14.5 % of domestic hard coal and lignite, 13 % of hard coal, and nearly 3% of wood, animal and plant wastes. It is expected that hard coal and lignite will remain as the predominant energy sources in the upcoming years that constitutes for approximately half of Turkish total primary energy resource production.[16] By using of its alternative energy resources, Turkey can be able to reduce its high-level dependency on gas resources and can secure its energy future. The areas of Afs˛in-Elbistan and Konya-Karapinar, Trakya possess more than 3000 million tons of hard coal and lignite resources. In fact, although Turkey does have a limited capacity of oil and natural gas resources, but it has an adequate amount of lignite and hard coal reserves. Lignite and hard coal can be considered as the major domestic contributors to Turkish electricity production and for coming decades, it can be replaced with gas resources for Turkey’s future energy security.

Concerning nuclear power, according to the strategic plan of Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources in 2009, nuclear energy will be included in Turkish electricity composition up to 2020. This decisive plan will ensure the reconstruction and redesign of Turkish energy policy, in a broad term, its electricity architecture with the comprehensive composition of natural gas, hydro, lignite and hard coal. Turkey signed a contract with Russia in May 2010 concerning the building of nuclear power plant Nuclear Energy Company) in the area of Turkey called Akkuyu, Mersin. According to the deal, the first phase of the project of Akkuyu nuclear plant in southern Mersin province of Turkey put into effect before 2023.[17] The ambassador of Turkey to Russia Halil Akinci in 2009 underlined that it is important, even more, a successful deal between Turkey and Russia than the natural gas contract between them. Besides, Turkey also continues talks with South Korea in order to build next nuclear power plant in Sinop, on the Turkey’s Black Sea coast. The third such a nuclear plant is expected to be built in Igneada on the western Black Sea coast. According to Taner Yildiz, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, nuclear energy will account for the 10 % of consumption of Turkish electricity generation up to 2020.[18]


[1] Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, pp-10-25, Available at:

[2] Thomas Paine, Rights of a Man, pp-16-20 Available at:

[3] Burchill, S. (2005). Liberalism, Chapter 3, pages 55-83, in Theories of International Relations, Third Edition. Palgrave Macmillan.

[4] Doyle, Michael W. "Liberalism and World Politics." The American Political Science Review 80 (4):1151-1169 (1986). Available at:

[5] Keohane, R. and Nye, J. (1987). Power and Interdependence revisited. International Organization, 41(04), pp.725-753, Available at: file:///C:/Users/Admin/Downloads/power_and_interdependece.pdf

[6] Abbott, K. and Snidal, D. (1998). Why States Act through Formal International Organizations. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 42(1), pp.3-32. Available at:

[7] Moravcsik, Andrew: Liberalism and International Relations Theory. Paper No. 92-6, pages 1-53. Available at:

[8] Keohane, R. and Nye, J. (1987). Power and Interdependence revisited. International Organization, 41(04), pp.725-753, Available at: file:///C:/Users/Admin/Downloads/power_and_interdependece.pdf

[9] D, Harvey, (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism, pp-64-87, Available at:

[10] J. H. Kalicki and D. L. Goldwyn, (2005). Energy & Security: Toward a new foreign policy strategy, edited by Published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington, D.C, The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp.53-60.

[11] Dünya siyasəti, (The world policy), by Agalar Abbasbayli, Rashad Sadigov, Baku State University, Baku-2010, pp. 200-205; URL:

[12] Ibid 11,

[13] Wigen, E. (2012). Pipe Dreams or Dream Pipe? Turkey's Hopes of Becoming an Energy Hub. The Middle East Journal, 66(4), pp.598-612

[14] GÖKÇE, C. (2014). AVRUPA BİRLİĞİ VE TÜRKİYE İÇİN ENERJİ KIRILGANLIK ENDEKSLERİ. Akademik Araştırmalar ve Çalışmalar Dergisi (AKAD), 6(10).

[15] (2016). Турция отказалась от продления газового контракта с Россией. [online] Available at:

[16] Yıldız, F. (2013). Avrupa Birliği Enerji Politikaları ve Enerji Arz Güvenliği Arayışları (European Union Energy Policy and Seeking for Security of Energy Supply). İnsan & Toplum Dergisi (The Journal of Human & Society), 3(5), pp.159-181.

[17] (n.d.). Akkuyu NPP Implementation Strategic Priority for Turkey - Turkish PM. Available at:

[18] Baris, K. and Kucukali, S. (2012). Availibility of renewable energy sources in Turkey: Current situation, potential, government policies and the EU perspective. Energy Policy, 42, pp.377-391.

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The Role of Turkey in the European Energy Policy. Problems and Perspectives
Vytautas Magnus University  (International Relations and Diplomacy)
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Energy policy, EU, Turkey
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Nargiz Haciyeva (Author), 2016, The Role of Turkey in the European Energy Policy. Problems and Perspectives, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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