ISRAEL CAN CARRY THE NATURAL GAS ONLY THROUGH TURKEY
ISRAEL’S ISTANBUL CONSUL GENERAL SHAI COHEN UNDERLINES THE PROGRESS IN ECONOMY AND CULTURE IN SPITE OF THE POLITICAL DILEMMA BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES
Is Turkey a difficult place for an Israeli diplomat to be on duty?
I came to Istanbul 7.5 months ago. It seems much longer to me because there are so many activities in many different fields like economy, culture and academy. The Jewish Community is very active. I think that in the last four-five years , there are very good signs reflecting the real relation between Turkish and Israeli people, in spite of the political dilemma.
Can we expect to see normalization between Turkey and Israel in the near future?
This year is a year dealing with internal politics in both countries. That’s why we are not going to see a normalization process in the coming days or weeks. Normalization won’t be a short process. Turkey has a positive mode to minorities like the reopening of The Edirne Synagogue, and the participation to events like Holocaust commemoration. On the Israeli side ,there is a big expectation to have good relations between the two countries.
Then, what do you think is the most important obstruction in front of normalization?
I think that there is no important obstruction. Because of elections, it is true that it is not a good timing for either countries. We will not be able to see any rapprochement between Israel and Turkey or their leaders until new governments are formed. Collaboration in economy, trade, culture and academy is increasing. Trade volume has increased by 30% in the last two years, and reached 5.5 billion dollars. There is a cultural activity every two or three weeks which shows that Turkish and Israeli people wish and expect normalization between them. Fight against terrorism,collaboration in energy, districtal economic development,and water management… All of those are strategic districtal topics Israel and Turkey should collaborate for their own benefits and for the district as well.
Is it logical to carry natural gas that Israel found, through Turkey?
I believe that this is the only solution possible from the economic side. This is the cheapest, shortest and most effective way to diversify energy sources. Turkey will have to depend on natural gas for 80% of her heating.Israel’s dependence on natural gas for heating and electricity too proves that the only solution is districtal collaboration. There is no technical and practical way than to carry gas from Leviathan reservoir (450 billion cubic metres of natural gas) to Turkey’s south by a pipeline.
Are there any negotiations going on between the two countries about a pipeline?
Now, the negotiations are going on between private companies. At the same time, there are also international energy companies. Unfortunately there is no negotiation between Turkish and Israeli establishments about energy. But at the end of the day, even if it takes up two or five years , I think this is the only solution.
TURKEY IS THE CONSTRUCTION LEADER IN GAZZA
Israel PM Binyamin Netanyahu is reelected.Taking into consideration the past relations between the leaders,will it be difficult to reach an agreement if the AK Party government comes to power again?
In my opinion, this is not a personal but a political problem. It is not a secret that we have differences with Turkey about Palestinian conflict; specially about the present situation in Gazza. Contrary to what is perceived by Turkey, the only embargo is the embargo by the sea which is accepted by international law. The sea embargo is to prevent the smuggling of illegal arms. Turkey is the leading actor in all other activities. Turkey is constructing a Palestine hospital with the coordination of Israel. Turkey is the main construction goods supplier to Gazza Strip. 400 trucks come and go through Kerem Shalom Gate every day.
GİZEM ACAR May 2,2015
Milliyet p 25