Turkey, Russia and Interesting New Balkan Geopolitics

By F William Endahl and cross-posted from New Eastern Outlook

574524324The geopolitical template of the entire European Union is undergoing one of its most profound changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than twenty-five years ago. At the June 30 meeting in Ankara of the Turkish-Hungarian Business Forum Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that Hungary “stands by its friends” and it is on Turkey’s side in its current war of words with the European Union. The Hungarian Prime Minister also praised Turkey’s role in preventing a huge further refugee flow into the EU, noting that “Without Turkey Europe would have been flooded with many millions of immigrants,” stating that for this Turkey “deserves respect.Behind the comments, calculated to enrage the EU and its unelected, faceless bureaucrats, stands far more than the issue of refugees and rights of national sovereignty.

There’s a major tectonic shift underway not only in Hungary but also across the entire Balkans. The shift involves Erdogan’s Turkey and also Putin’s Russia. The outlines of a new Balkans geopolitics are emerging and it’s opening huge fault-lines within the EU between die-hard NATO Atlanticists and pragmatic EU states more keen on economic development and the health and safety of their countries than in defending a bankrupt declining USA Superpower.

Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán was in Turkey for no casual photo op. He was there to talk business, economic business. He brought with him half of his cabinet and around 70 business leaders to discuss areas of increased bilateral economic cooperation. Orbán also met privately with Turkish President Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Energy Hub for Southeast Europe

Though it was played down in media releases, a central issue discussed in Ankara was the prospect of Russian natural gas imports via Turkey’s Turkish Stream gas pipeline.

With the legally dubious new US sanctions bill targeting European companies investing in the Russian-German Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which would bypass Ukraine, Russia is accelerating its priority to complete construction of its Turkish Stream gas pipeline from the already-built gas pumping station near Anapa in Southern Russia, going beneath the Black Sea, that will pass through Turkey to the Bulgarian and perhaps Greek borders.

The latest incredibly foolish US Congressional sanctions, aiming as well at Iran and North Korea, punish German and Austrian companies investing in the northern EU Nord Stream II pipeline from near St Petersburg, claiming it’s illegal under international law for a US President to sanction companies outside their territorial jurisdiction, legally termed extra-territoriality.

The announcement of new sanctions aimed at Nord Stream II has led Russia to accelerate laying of its Black Sea Turkish Stream line, currently running ahead of plan. Gazprom contractor Swiss Allseas has laid about 15 miles of the pipeline under the Black Sea since May. The first of two parallel pipelines is due to open in March 2018, the second in 1919. The annual capacity of each leg is estimated to reach 15.75 billion cubic meters of natural gas or a total of almost 32 bcm for both.

Here is where things get interesting

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