World Bulletin / News Desk
The Istanbul-based think-tank Caspian Strategy Institute (HASEN) said on Tuesday that regional challenges would force Turkish business to seek new markets in the Asia-Pacific region in 2016.
"The world's economic center of gravity has been shifting to the Asia-Pacific region. The recent Russia-Turkey crisis and the removal of sanctions from Iran, integrating it with the West, will force Turkey to expand in the Asia-Pacific region in 2016," HASEN General Secretary Haldun Yavas said at a press conference in Istanbul.
The Caspian countries are gaining importance as a transit corridor in the region, Yavas said. The Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway project, a regional rail link project to directly connect Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, would enable Turkey to increase its footprint in the Asia-Pacific region when it is completed.
Yavas said that a 4,000 kilometer (2,485 mile) railway from Baku to China has been completed. Project officials have said that the railway would be completed in 2016.
"The Azerbaijani and Georgian parts of the Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway have also been completed, but the 76 kilometer (47.22 mile) part in Turkey has not been finished yet. The completion of the project in time is vital for Turkey not to lose ground to other countries," Yavas added.
Considering the impact on the Turkish economy and energy supply of Russian sanctions, Ruchan Kaya, Politics and Strategy coordinator of HASEN, said that it would not have significant short-term effects.
"However, Turkey may face a bigger risk in terms of energy supply security in the coming years if it does not initiate new projects. Turkey should focus more on Caspian energy sources and improve trade and energy cooperation in the region," Kaya added.
Tension between Moscow and Ankara has been high since Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian fighter jet on Nov. 24 near the Turkey-Syria border after it violated the country’s airspace despite repeated warnings.
Russia imposed a series of economic sanctions after the event, including restrictions on Turkish exports and limits on the activity of Turkish companies operating in Russia.