Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that he is still interested in transporting Israeli natural gas to Europe through Turkey, as Ankara's relations with Tel Aviv continue to improve.
According to a transcript released by the Turkish Presidency yesterday, Erdogan told journalists that "If [Israeli gas] would be brought to Europe, it could only be done through Turkey". He added that his country and Israel "can sit and talk about the conditions."
Erdogan's comments come after the United States this week withdrew its support for the EastMed pipeline project, the agreement to transport Israeli gas along a 1,900-kilometre-long pipeline through Cyprus to supply Europe with energy, in a bid to reduce the continent's dependence on Russian gas.
The US abandoned the agreement due to its costliness, the need to move towards renewable energy sources, and the potential regional instability that the project would have resulted in – particularly following Turkey's dissatisfaction and outrage at the plans to bypass it.
In his comments, Erdogan said that he was not surprised that the US withdrew its support from the EastMed pipeline as it would have been very costly. He also mentioned the positive engagements between Turkey and Israel in recent months, saying that "We speak to Israeli President [Isaac] Herzog. Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, also is [communicating] with us at different levels."
The Turkish President defended his efforts to improve relations with Tel Aviv, stating that "If we are policy making, this cannot be with [a] fight or quarrel. We have to maintain the policy within the line of peace."
Turkey and Israel had previously planned to cooperate in transporting gas to Europe back in 2016, in an effort to reconcile relations. Those negotiations collapsed following Israel's transgressive actions in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which resulted in condemnation by Turkey and the breaking-off of relations.