Turkey talks of J'lem-Ankara energy cooperation

Before compensation talks next week, top Turkish officials to meet with families of those killed on ‘Mavi Marmara'.

Tamar natural gas rig 370 (photo credit: Albatross)
Tamar natural gas rig 370
(photo credit: Albatross)
One byproduct of Israel’s apology to Turkey for operational errors that may have caused loss of life on the Mavi Marmara could be cooperation in the energy field, Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Tuesday.
“We should acknowledge that it is a political issue,” Yildiz was quoted by Today’s Zaman as saying in reference to the apology at an energy conference in Ankara, amid a slight decrease in public Turkish gloating over the issue.
“The reason for the apology is not [common] energy projects, but the result of it can be energy projects,” he said.
“Within the process of normalization, after Israel has fulfilled its responsibilities towards our side, the project of transporting Israeli gas via Turkey could come onto the agenda.”
While Israel has not yet decided whether or how much of its natural gas reserves that just began flowing on Saturday should be exported – or whether the preferred market is to Europe via Cyprus or Turkey, or the Far East via Eilat – there was considerable talk during the height of the Turkish-Israeli diplomatic tension of an Israel-Cyprus- Greece energy corridor that would bypass Turkey.
But now, with Cyprus’s financial woes coupled with the beginning of a Jerusalem- Ankara rapprochement, the idea of a pipeline to Turkey is once again gaining currency.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc saying that an Israeli delegation would travel to Turkey on April 11 for compensation talks. He and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are scheduled to meet with the families of the nine Turks killed on the ship that tried to break the naval blockade of Gaza in May, 2010.
Speaking on a television program, Arinc said Israel would like to pay the compensation immediately, and “we would like to solve the issue as soon as possible.”
When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan 10 days ago, with US President Barack Obama in the room, the two agreed – after Netanyahu apologized for operational errors that might have led to the loss of life – to a normalization of ties, including an exchange of ambassadors, and an end to Turkish legal proceedings against IDF soldiers.
Netanyahu also agreed to “complete an agreement on compensation/non-liability.”
Diplomatic officials said that the National Security Council and the Justice Ministry, not the Foreign Ministry, will be conducting the talks on the Israeli side.
Israeli and Turkish officials have held on-and-off discussions about compensation payments over the last two years as part of efforts to find a way out of the crisis.
Arinc seemed to be preparing the Turkish public for a situation whereby once a compensation package is agreed upon, it ends future claims.
“When a state pays compensation to another state, ongoing lawsuits should end by individual plaintiffs’ withdrawal,” Arinc said.
According to the Anadolu Agency, Arinc characterized the apology as “a magnificent success of Turkish foreign policy” and said it means Israel “accepts and admits its unjust act.”