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Assembly of Turkish American Associations

1526 18th Street, NW,

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 483-9090 Fax: (202) 483-9092

e-mail: [email protected]


Azerbaijan, BP step closer to gas pipe to Turkey

BAKU, Feb 21 (Reuters) - A BP-led group signed on Thursday four key agreements with Azerbaijan to move one step closer to a deal to build a pipeline from the giant Azeri offshore Shakh Deniz gas field on the Caspian Sea to Turkey.

"This event will boost the pipeline project which will deliver gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and in future to other markets," said the head of BP-Azerbaijan, David Woodward.

The sides signed four deals: two on mutual obligations and guarantees between Azerbaijan and the shareholders of Shakh Deniz, a memorandum on the marketing of Azeri gas on international markets and a pipeline agreement.

Woodward said the group planned to launch the first phase of the project, including the construction of a gas production platform on the field and a pipeline running from the field via Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey, by June-July.

The first phase would cost $2.6 billion and envisages annual output of about eight billion cubic meters from Shakh Deniz.

The 1,050 km (655 miles) pipeline is to be built by 2005 and will have total annual capacity of 22 billion cubic metres.

BP and Statoil each hold 25.5 percent in Shakh Deniz, estimated to hold one trillion cubic metres of gas.

Azeri state oil company, Russia's LUKOIL French TotalFinaElf and Iran's OIEC each own 10 percent in the project while Turkish TPAO holds the remaining nine percent.

Azerbaijan last year signed a deal to supply Turkey with 2.0 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in 2004, rising to 3.0 bcm in 2005, 5.0 bcm in 2006 and 6.6 bcm per year in 2007-18.

Turkey currently buys 16 bcm of gas a year from Russia and several billion cubic meters from Iran. Russian volumes are to rise to some 30 bcm a year, but Turkey has said demand for gas imports might rise to some 80-100 bcm in the next 10 years.

U.S. oil majors deny Balkan pipeline interest

NEW YORK, Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. oil majors Exxon Mobil and ChevronTexaco have denied claims that they are considering building a trans-Balkan pipeline to ship oil westward from the Caspian and the Black Seas.

The head of Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian Oil Corp. (AMBO), which manages the project, said last week the two majors are in regular discussions on the project, which envisions carrying 750,000 barrels a day of landlocked Caspian oil from Bulgaria to Albania via Macedonia.

An Exxon Mobil spokeswoman said the notion that the company might get involved in building the line was "very, very premature," adding, "There have been some discussions but they have been very preliminary."

"We always keep up to date on pipeline projects as they develop, but we have no current plans to fund any projects in that region," said a spokesman for ChevronTexaco .

The AMBO project, which has been on the drawing board since 1996, aims to bring growing oil supplies from Caspian states such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, bypassing the heavily used Bosphorus Straits through Turkey.

Assembly of Turkish American Associations

1526 18th Street, NW,

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 483-9090 Fax: (202) 483-9092

e-mail: [email protected]


urkish Daily News
Feb. 21,
Congressman Wexler: US must throw all support behind Turkey

Elif Unal

A U.S. Congressman emerged firmer from intense official meetings in Ankara that Washington should ensure full financial support for Turkey in order to prove to the Islamic world that it would never leave a U.S.-ally Muslim country alone.

Robert Wexler, a Democrat of the U.S. House of Representatives, sounded far more passionate than the U.S. administration and World Bank officials, who signalled that extra funds for Turkey would not be available, even if a war erupted in neighboring Iraq.

Wexler arrived in Turkey as part of a five-member delegation from U.S. Congress last weekend on a visit designed to prepare the ground for a U.S.-Turkish economic partnership commission meeting on Feb. 26-27 in Ankara.

Turkey desperately needs Washington's economic backing due to a lingering economic crisis and expectations of a possible U.S. attack on the Arab country for refusing a U.N. arms monitoring mission. Washington has a significant say in World Bank loans on which Turkey is dependent.

Ankara wants the United States to delay the repayment of military loans and abolish textile and steel quotas in a bid to correct a trade balance between the two countries in favour of Turkey. But most of those issues are in the power of the Congress where Wexler and his 35 other colleagues are expected to push for Ankara's requests under a newly-formed Turkish friendship group, named the Turkish caucus.

Wexler said lack of U.S. commitment to Turkey particularly in the economic field could dishearten other potential allies for Washington among the Muslim countries. "I think it is a very credible argument that should Turkey have even more significant economic problems, many people, particularly in the Islamic World, would say 'Hey, if you go out of your way as an Islamic nation to be a friend of the United States like Turkey does, look what happens. Your economy fails and America does not show up to support you," he told the Turkish Daily News in an interview.

"I think that this is an important thing which we have to make certain that we avoid," he said.

The United States, highly pleased with the imminent Turkish support for its international war against terrorism in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, has dubbed overwhelmingly-Muslim Turkey's secular order as the "best model" for the Islamic countries. U.S. officials are trying to convince their Turkish counterparts that an operation to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will serve Turkish interests in the long term.

Wexler said he understood Turkey's fears of an economic collapse in case of a confrontation in Iraq. "An economic collapse in Turkey would be disastrous for America," he said, in response to a question of what his group could do to alleviate Turkish economic concerns.

"That will be as bad for America as it is for Turkey, and America has got to treat the economy of Turkey as if is the economy of New Jersey. I mean we have just got to make certain that we in every which way possible assist Turkey and its development," Wexler added.

The Turkish caucus is first of its kind in the 535-member U.S. Congress, and faces the hard task of challenging powerful anti-Turkish lobbies there. Wexler said he was not concerned about it at all since Turkey had an utmost significance for U.S. interests in areas including the Caucasus, the Middle East and Iraq.

He and his four colleagues will present an official report to President George W. Bush and inform Congress along with their own grassroots on their trip to Turkey. Their reports would include Turkish worries about repercussions of a military operation on Iraq, such as its territorial integrity, and a possible migration influx across Turkish borders.

Before coming to Turkey, Wexler submitted a non-binding draft resolution to the House of Representatives which called for increased support behind a growing cooperation among his country, Israel and Turkey in the turbulent Middle East. Wexler, 40, does not speak Turkish and said he had no plans to learn the language, but added that he advocated Turkey since it served U.S. interests best.

"I have a great interest in the Middle East. I represent one the largest Jewish constituencies in the United States. There is no one particular reason that caused me to have an interest in Turkey other than the overriding factor, which for me is a self evident factor that America's interests are just so tied with the success of Turkey in so many different ways. For me, it is self evident that I best serve my country and my constituency by helping to develop the relationships between America and Turkey," he said.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News

Assembly of Turkish American Associations

1526 18th Street, NW,

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 483-9090 Fax: (202) 483-9092

e-mail: [email protected]


Dear Members and Friends,

The following article is from the Wall Street Journal. If you wish to write a Letter to the Editor, you can do so to: [email protected]

Wall Street Journal
February 22,
Dialogue With the Deaf


ISTANBUL, Turkey -- There was an episode to savor here last week, at a meeting of foreign ministers from the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) -- a body which purports to represent the Islamic world, and which is the only international organization of states defined purely in terms of religion.

In a ballroom with radiant views of the Bosphorus, Kamal Kharrazi, the foreign minister of Iran, posed stiffly for a photograph at an evening reception. A dapper, bearded chap, he passed a hand over his chin as a posse of Turkish cameramen edged him closer to a window. Suddenly, one of his minders darted behind Mr. Kharrazi and hustled a waitress out of sight. She was bearing a tray with glasses of wine and would have appeared, alcohol and all, just behind the minister's right shoulder had she stayed in the frame. This, one assumes, would not have gone down well back in Tehran, though the wine, a lively Anatolian red, was going down a treat at the reception -- with momentarily impious Muslims and unbelievers alike.

The beauty of Turkey -- and by this I mean the elegance of its cultural practices -- lies in the fact that it is the only state in the Muslim world audacious enough to convene a conference with more than 40 Islamic foreign ministers present alongside their European counterparts, and then to include the country's leading winemaker and its most popular brewery among the event's sponsors. This may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things -- and the theme of the two-day conference, "Civilization and Harmony: The Political Dimension," was grandiose indeed -- but it is in these touches of Western custom, these flashes of cultural independence, that one detects the true nature of Turkey's separateness from the ummah, or the Islamic world.

Take another vignette. At Istanbul's Sultanahmet Mosque -- known to Westerners as the "Blue Mosque" -- I was part of a group of visitors approached by the imam. We knew he was the imam only because he told us so, for his aspect -- dark pinstriped suit, white shirt, red floral tie, and the barest designer stubble on his face -- revealed not a hint of his vocation. Nowhere else in the Islamic world (and certainly not in mosques in New York or London) would an imam dress in so cosmopolitan a way while on duty, or have so feeble a beard. What is more, he shook hands with the ladies in our group, and posed for pictures. One woman, a forward type from Germany, asked what seemed an impertinent question: "Sir," she said, with that inimitably Teutonic straightness of face, "you don't mind images?" To which the imam chuckled, then replied: "Madame, this is Turkey."

The imam's repartee was more profound than it might have sounded to his listeners. It laid bare, in a mere phrase, the contours of contemporary Turkish life. In 1924, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk , the founder of modern Turkey, made this observation in a speech to the nation: "Countries may vary, but civilization is one, and for a nation to progress, it must take part in this one civilization. The decline of the Ottomans began when, proud of their triumphs over the West, they cut their ties with the European nations. This was a mistake which we will not repeat." Indeed, Turkish politics, and much of Turkish life, might be described as an anxiously choreographed ballet, with every move measured to ensure that the historic mistake to which Ataturk referred -- to wit, a disregard of Western ways -- is always avoided.

Embedded in the Turkish definition of "modernity" is the belief that the public role of Islam needs to be reduced to a minimum, and that a Muslim society can only thrive, and compete with the rest of the world, when its elemental Muslim tenets are kept in check. In other words, there is an acknowledgment in Turkey -- refreshing in its dispassion, rare in its honesty -- that not all cultures are equal. Some, in fact, are better than others.

Yet at the conference of foreign ministers -- convened to identify the fault lines between the West and the Islamic world, and to promote an intelligent discussion of the ways in which the twain might meet -- there was an almost breathtaking unwillingness to tackle the hard questions. One Western foreign minister after another queued up to pay court to the "tolerance" and "majesty" of the "true Islam," pandering to Islamic sentiment by trotting out all the old clichés of how the West was once wallowing in muck while the Muslim world kept the flame of intellect alight. Ah, Cordoba! And the Islamic representatives, puffed by this fulsome nonsense, responded in kind, showing that, at least in the confection of platitudes, they were the equal of their Western counterparts. So one had to endure speeches that extolled the "Islamic way," and declarations -- such as one by the foreign minister of Bangladesh -- that "people who are terrorists cannot be Muslim, and people who are Muslim cannot be terrorists." This analytical frippery earned the minister great applause, but not as much as followed the pronouncement by the secretary general of the OIC that "we all belong to a big family, the family of monotheism."

The plain truth is that we do not belong to a big family, and that is why the conference was convened in the first place. The problem with the earnest defenders of Islam is that they do not compare like with like when addressing differences in contemporary civilizations. They compare what is actually practiced in the West -- the behavior of Western peoples and institutions -- with an Islamic ideal. This is intellectual speciousness, if not outright dishonesty. But the old ways of international diplomacy -- say nothing harsh, and certainly nothing truthful, lest there be a confrontation -- asserted themselves from the moment the first ministerial mouth was opened for an utterance.

There was, however, no escape from one depressing truth. The cultures of the West and the Islamic world are so far apart that it would seem that even the most basic dialogue -- defined, here, as a clear signposting of ideas, honestly expressed, followed by a process of parsing and analysis -- is impossible. This became clear at a session billed as "Confronting Common Challenges in Today's Environment," a roundtable discussion between two intellectuals from the West and the Islamic world, and two Islamic ministers. The Western thinker was Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton and the Occident's preeminent scholar of the Islamic world. His Muslim counterpart was Hassan Hanafi, chairman of the philosophy department at Cairo University, regarded in his own milieu as the leading philosopher in the Islamic world. If Mr. Hanafi is the best that his world has to offer, I am ready to weep. Speaking of Sept. 11, he said: "The West is responsible for fundamentalism. Modernization equals Westernization, equals Americanization. There was a reaction to this." He then claimed that "a clash of civilizations is alien to the Muslim world, where we have always championed the dialogue of civilizations."

As he twittered on, I could see Mr. Lewis on stage, brow furrowed, thinking, Dear God, where am I? Gamely, when his turn came, he stressed that "there are many civilizations, and have been through history, but there's only one modernity." But he was talking to the deaf, one of whom was Amre Moussa, secretary general of the League of Arab States, who declared later that "the people who carried out the Sept. 11 attack do not represent Islam, just as the Baader Meinhof doesn't represent Germany or the Red Brigade Italy."

Neither group claimed to speak for Germany or Italy in the way that al Qaeda claims to speak for Islam. Yet this point was lost on Mr. Moussa, and this failure of analogical reasoning, so common among so many Muslim interlocutors, is part of a general intellectual calamity in the Islamic world. That world, with the valiant exception of Turkey , has yet to graduate from self-pity to self-criticism, and unless its spokesmen and thinkers are able to know themselves, there is no hope that they may ever be able to know the West.

Mr. Varadarajan is the Journal's deputy editorial features editor.

This is a distribution of ATAA's Grassroots Information Service. For more news and updates please visit ATAA's website at The articles distributed through this Service are not necessarily endorsed by ATAA and represent the opinion of their authors

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