Energy security, at the heart of energy policy, has become central to the dynamics of international relations. Political turmoil has overwhelmed many oil and gas producing countries, forcing them to adapt their national energy policies according to this continuous change. Specifically, because of the wars and instability in the Middle East and the Ukrainian crisis, global energy security is no longer guaranteed. One of the foremost experts on the energy industry, Daniel Yergin, identifies energy security as “the availability of sufficient supplies at affordable prices.” He also comments that every country interprets the definition of energy security with its own dynamics. In practice, the definition of energy security is polysemic and the topic of energy security is being explored daily, under the lens of numerous new studies, by scholars, energy experts, government officials, activists, and journalists.
The dimensions of energy security are so broad that the conundrum of energy security is not only a subject of availability of energy at competitive prices, but a function of international geopolitical, environmental, social, economic, and technological constraints. A vast number of academic articles aim to examine and define energy security, and this is reflected in the literature. Among them, the article of And, Choong, and Ng titled “Energy Security: Definitions, Dimensions and Indexes,” should be underlined. This article classifies definitions of energy security under seven titles: energy availability, infrastructure, energy prices, societal effects, environment, governance, and energy efficiency. Because of the multidimensional nature of energy security, more work should be directed at researching and developing this important topic in international relations.
In this special issue of Insight Turkey, we explore and dig deep into how energy security informs and shapes Turkey’s energy policies. As stated above, Yergin assessed that every country has its own dynamics and conditions. Here, we focus on Turkey’s energy security perceptions, its economic and geopolitical constraints as well as advantages, and how instability in the surrounding region impacts the future of Turkey’s energy policies. Emphasis must be placed at the outset on the fact that Turkey is a net importer of energy, which makes its energy system heavily dependent on energy imports, and thus vulnerable to the political vagaries of its oil and gas producing commercial partners. Another singular aspect of Turkey’s position in the world of energy security is its location between energy rich regions and countries (Russia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, etc.), and the energy hungry and needy markets of Europe.
Concomitantly, this geopolitical position is both a curse and a blessing for Turkey. If Turkey can manage its geopolitical and economic advantages, it has the potential to become an energy hub between Europe, the Caspian, and the Middle East. Becoming an energy hub is not a new ambition or policy objective for Turkey; however, because the very countries that produce oil and gas have become increasingly unstable, further discussions are warranted. This is why the current edition of Insight Turkey is so timely. The research and debates in this edition should significantly contribute to the literature on energy security and energy policy related to Turkey.
The new special issue of Insight Turkey comprises three commentaries and five research articles which focus on Turkey’s energy security strategies. Nurşin Ateşoğlu Güney examines Turkey’s energy security strategy integrated with the global energy market. Güney highlights the changing dynamics of Turkey’s geopolitical conditions and its diversification of energy source management. Alparslan Bayraktar provides new insights on energy governance and how it is related to Turkey’s energy supply security. Completing the general picture, Karagöl and Kızılkaya analyze the importance of the Turkish Stream Project for Turkey, Russia, and the European Union. They argue that the Turkish Stream will add a new dimension to Turkey-Russia relations as well as Turkey-EU relations.
Mert Bilgin analyses Turkey’s official energy strategy, demonstrating how the country responds to actual challenges, which are formed based on market characteristics, geopolitics, and foreign policy. He explains that Turkey’s supply security perspective intersects with its own geopolitical features and is also a function of foreign policy. He concludes with the need for greater international cooperation and coordination to ensure energy security because of the present ecological and political/strategic conditions.
Rovshan Ibrahimov analyzes the Azerbaijani perspective on Turkey’s initiatives in the Caspian Sea region. He emphasizes the importance of Turkish-Azerbaijan energy relations by giving special reference to their interdependence. He analyzes the impact of energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey in regard to how these two states implement their foreign policies based on their respective national interests.
In another article, Safa Uslu explores Turkey’s energy diversification strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to Uslu, Turkey has been able to reach out to new geographic regions by creating and using its soft power. He articulates that energy is a key instrument in finding new avenues to broaden Turkish foreign policy.
İbrahim Arınç and Levent Özgül study Turkey’s natural gas market and analyze its cross-border pipeline strategies with regard to the recent developments of Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) gas discoveries. They also examine the best options to export EastMed gas. They argue that Turkey is a top contender to harbor East-Med gas, a scenario that could be beneficial for EastMed gas producers, Turkey, and the European Union.
By utilizing an “analysis method,” Barış Sanlı combines different factors, such as technology, economics, fear, and temporal relations, to construct a theoretical paradigm to help visualize and forecast future energy market developments. While attempting to explain practical examples with an analytical framework, Sanlı surveys past events to show how these indicators could explain the outcomes. Even more interestingly, he demonstrates how these indicators can help governments, economists, and corporations hedge and prepare for future global oil crises.
In conclusion, because of the multidimensional nature of energy security, more work should be directed at researching and developing this important topic in international relations. The articles in this edition of Insight Turkey reflect the complicated nature of energy security, as it combines ecology, economy, politics, and strategic calculations. Turkey has had the long-established policy goal of becoming an energy hub in the region. For this economic and policy objective to come to fruition, there is a need for a detailed examination of future oil and natural gas projects, as they will have an impact on the development of both the global energy market and Turkish energy security policy.