Pavel Shlykov: "Black Sea region's main problem is lack of relevant international structures"
After the Sochi talks between Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee Alexey Miller said that since the beginning of the year the company increased the volume of Russian gas supplies to Turkey by 21.7% compared to the same period of last year to 24.8 billion cubic meters, calling this fact "a clear proof of the demand for the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, the construction of which is going at fool speed." This spring, Gazprom has launched the construction of the gas pipeline's offshore section in the Black Sea. The project involves the construction of a gas pipeline across the sea to the European part of Turkey and to the border with Greece.
Associate Professor of the Department of Near and Middle Eastern History at the Institute of Asia and Africa of Moscow State University, Pavel Shlykov, told about the Russian-Turkish dialogue on the Black Sea, as well as about the problems of the Black Sea region.
- How effective is the interaction between Moscow and Ankara on the Black Sea?
- There are many dimensions of this cooperation. The implementation of large-scale transport and energy projects is under way, albeit slowly. There are realized projects of the Blue Stream pipeline, the unrealized Blue Stream-2, the current Turkish Stream, though it is not in the format, which would be much more interesting for Russia, I mean reducing it to one string. There are inconsistencies in the interests and security approaches. As Turkey is a member of NATO and we should not forget about it, even despite its readiness to buy weapons, S-400 systems from Russia. Ankara remains an integral part of the security system that the North Atlantic alliance has built in the Black Sea. And the Black Sea today is a conflict zone between the West and Russia, which is expressed in the region's increasing militarization. Pay attention to the buildup of the Black Sea Fleet and the Russian military's assessment of the importance of Crimea, Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet, the Russian military's statements about the prospects for deploying warheads on the Black Sea Fleet ships. The Black Sea countries that have joined the European Union respond them with the same increasing militarization. The growing tension is the reality of the Black Sea region of recent years.
- What would help reduce the tension in the region?
- One of such steps could be the establishment of an effective international organization that could also contribute to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the establishment of contact between Russia and the Black Sea countries, which were part of the Warsaw Pact and which became members of the European Union and NATO. Such an international organization, relevant to the region and relevant to the current complexities does not exist. The organization of the Black Sea economic cooperation is economic one. The EU is too big, in addition, Russia has too much distrust of its potential role in resolving the situation in the Black Sea region. NATO does not really fit in the role of such an international organization. What can Russia offer? CSTO, EEU are perceived by the countries of the region as instruments of Russia's foreign policy. In my opinion, the main thing that distinguishes the situation in the Black Sea region and does not allow to find compromise solutions to existing problems is the lack of effective international organizations in resolving conflict situations and lack of confidence.
- Could Russia create such an organization?
- Russia is creating an international organization, which, among other things, is aimed at solving conflict situations, and economic integration. For small countries in the Black Sea region, giants like NATO, the EU, Russia are complex partners that can impose their will on small states. However, it is unlikely that small countries will be able to impose a mutually acceptable format of cooperation for such giants. This is a real policy, which creates the problem of the absence of relevant international structures for this region.