ANKARA: Turkey on Saturday said it was seeking alternatives to Russian energy as relations with Moscow plunge over the downing of a warplane, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing his country will “not collapse” under sanctions.
Moscow has imposed a series of economic sanctions against Ankara after Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border on November 24, sparking the biggest crisis between the two countries since the Cold War.
Turkey says the plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, while furious Moscow insists it did not cross from Syria and has accused Ankara of a planned provocation.
Energy-hungry Turkey relies on Russia for 55 per cent of its natural gas and 30pc of its oil, but Erdogan indicated that Ankara is now seeking new suppliers in the wake of the plane crisis.
“It is possible to find different suppliers,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul, referring to Qatar and Azerbaijan.
The Turkish strongman visited Qatar this week and agreed a liquified natural gas deal, while his Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu travelled to energy-rich Azerbaijan.
Addressing concerns over possible gas shortages, Erdogan said Turkey could turn to its renewable energy resources.
He said Russia had made “no sign” yet that the crisis would affect their energy partnership, including joint work on the Akkuyu nuclear plant in southern Turkey.
Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said that talks had been suspended with Ankara on the joint TurkStream project, to pipe gas to Turkey and southern Europe.
But Erdogan dismissed the remark as a “lie”, saying that in fact Turkey suspended the project because of Russia’s “non-compliance with our demands”.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2015