Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
• Russia and Turkey this week signed the contract for the Turkish Stream gas pipeline that will carry Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey. The historical deal follows a period of estrangement between the two countries which ended when Turkey apologized for the downing of a Russian military plane last year. A day after the signing of the contract, Russia removed a ban on some Turkish food imports it had imposed after the plane affair. Meanwhile, later in the week, the European Commission signaled that Turkish Stream may become a new gas supply channel for the continent, despite the EU not looking kindly to any pipeline projects proposed by Russia. The EC’s Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic said that buying Russian gas from Turkish Stream is not out of the question. Some energy giants, such as BP, have also joined the choir, with CEO Bob Dudley telling the World Energy Congress in Istanbul that BP would like to join the construction of Turkish Stream. Dudley added that Turkey has a central role in Europe’s energy security, reinforcing a message that has been sent repeatedly from Western Europe to Ankara: that Europe is ready to do virtually anything Turkey asks it to do, in exchange for that energy security, even if said security involves Russian gas that doesn’t pass through Ukraine.
• As Turkey is heading to a referendum to switch from a parliamentary system to presidential system, most polls show that the majority is still against such a change, despite President Erdogan's years-long insistence. However, although the timetable is not set yet, a source at the ruling AKP says that the "deal will be sweetened." He has explained that the referendum will not be only about the presidential system. "There will be other constitutional amendments that would please large segments of our society." The AKP leaders are currently discussing these elements, trying to find different points by which the amendments can gather support from different groups, particularly Kurds, Islamists and secularists with various articles.
• Libya’s eastern parliament has agreed to let revenues from oil exports go to the central bank in the western city of Tripoli, the headquarters of the UN-backed Government of National Accord. The news comes despite tension between the two rival bodies and the fact that the parliament recently passed a no-confidence vote for the GNA, prompting…