Turkish energy minister aims for Israel visit to talk gas pipeline

Energy Minister Karin Elharrar and Turkish counterpart Fatih Dönmez spoke at the sidelines of the International Energy Agency’s conference in Paris

 Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez (photo credit: REUTERS/KAAN SOYTURK )
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez
(photo credit: REUTERS/KAAN SOYTURK )

Turkish energy minister Fatih Dönmez hopes to travel to Israel next month to discuss possible Israeli-Turkish cooperation on a gas pipeline, he told Energy Minister Karin Elharrar on Wednesday.

The ministers spoke on the sidelines of the International Energy Agency’s conference in Paris.

Dönmez told Elharrar that he would like to come to Israel in April to discuss a pipeline.

Elharrar responded that their staff should work on it, her spokeswoman said, confirming a report in KAN News.

The exchange came as Turkey has presented itself to the West as an alternative to Russian energy following sanctions related to the Ukraine war.

 President Isaac Herzog advances Israel-Turkey ties in meeting with Erdogan March 9, 2022. (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO) President Isaac Herzog advances Israel-Turkey ties in meeting with Erdogan March 9, 2022. (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

It also took place amid warming ties between Israel and Turkey, following President Isaac Herzog’s state visit to the capital city Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned the possibility of cooperation on gas during the presidents’ statements to the press.

In light of the many ups and downs in that relationship, including many instances of hostile statements and repeated withdrawals of Turkish ambassadors from Israel in recent years, Herzog said that he “entered this process with my eyes open... We do not forget the past, but we are thinking about the future.”

“We chose the path of giving [Erdogan] a chance, and I support that very much,” the president said, adding that he found Erdogan to be “open to real dialogue on a variety of topics.”

The issue of gas cooperation is sensitive in light of Israel’s close relations with Greece and Cyprus, Turkey’s historic adversaries.

Israel, Greece and Cyprus have signed agreements to cooperate on the EastMed Pipeline, which would connect Israeli gas to Europe. However, aside from declarations, there has been no actual progress on the pipeline and it is unclear whether it would be economically feasible.