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NATO member Turkiye sides with Russia and calls for end to embargoes on Iran and Venezuela

The Foreign Ministry of NATO member Turkiye said Friday that lifting Western sanctions on countries such as Iran and Venezuela would ease the global energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On the one hand, Venezuela has been under U.S. oil sanctions since 2019

And Iran has been under U.S. sanctions since Donald Trump’s administration decided to unilaterally terminate the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 in the Austrian capital of Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 powers (China, Russia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany).

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Currently, talks between Tehran and Washington on resuming the nuclear agreement have stalled.

For its part, Iran has the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia but lacks the infrastructure to boost its exports, which are currently limited to Iraq and Turkiye.

“The whole world needs Venezuela’s oil and natural gas. On the other hand, there have been embargoes on Iranian oil” that need to be lifted to ease the global energy crisis, according to Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“Lift these sanctions. If you want prices to go down, lift the embargoes on countries that put their products on the market,” he added, saying, “You cannot solve the problem by threatening a country.”

Türkiye, which has tried a balancing act with good relations with Russia and Ukraine, has avoided Western sanctions against Moscow and strengthened trade ties with its Black Sea neighbor.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that Russian gas be exported through Türkiye, making the country a new gas supply hub for Europe to maintain Russia’s energy influence over Europe.

The proposal was made at the sixth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Putin said Turkiye offered the most reliable route for gas supplies to the European Union.

Russia is trying to divert supplies from the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, which were damaged by a series of explosions last month.

Sweden has blocked Russia from investigating the leaks, and Putin accuses the U.S. of sabotage.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo internet reproduction)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo internet reproduction)

In late September, four major gas leaks occurred between Russia and Germany in the two gas pipelines, which several countries said were caused by underwater blasts.

On Sept. 26, Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the Russian-German pipeline, reported a gas leak of unknown cause in one of the infrastructure’s two pipelines near the Danish island of Bornholm.

Later, two parallel Nord Stream 1 pipeline strings were also damaged.

Given the impossibility of transporting Russian gas through these pipelines, which connect Russia directly to Germany, Putin told Erdogan at the bilateral meeting between Russia and Türkiye that the project was “a platform not only for deliveries but also for setting the price.”

This would allow Türkiye to impose any price it wanted and achieve significant margins.

In this regard, Erdogan reiterated on Wednesday that his country would indeed become a hub for the distribution of Russian natural gas to Europe in winter once a final agreement is reached with Russia.

During the weekly meeting of the Justice and Development Party faction in the Grand National Assembly (the Turkish parliament), Erdogan said that he and Putin had expressed “unity” on the idea during their last meeting in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

Erdogan has reported that work should begin as soon as possible to develop the infrastructure to pipe gas from Russia to Europe via Turkiye before winter sets in on the Old Continent.

Russian and Turkish energy authorities are working together to determine the best location for a gas distribution center.

The Turkish region of Thrace, which borders Greece and Bulgaria, seems to be the right place.

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