HAGERTSELL, Turkey (AP) The Turkish government is buying cheap gas from Germany in return the EU will pay it billions of euros in back taxes.
The move, first reported by the state-run Anadolu news agency, is a way to try to avoid a possible backlash from the pro-government government over its decision to ban imports of gas from the EU’s biggest gas exporter in response to the Paris climate accord.
It comes amid a surge in demand for gas from Russia, which supplies most of Turkey’s electricity and gas.
The EU imposed sanctions against Turkey in response, and Ankara says it will use the money to fund its defense, which it says is vital to the security of its own citizens.
The European Commission said in a statement Tuesday that it has committed to pay Turkey $1.8 billion in back-taxes and other taxes.EU sanctions have not affected Turkey’s export market, but it is still paying billions in taxes to the European Union, which is struggling to get its finances in order.EU officials said the EU would also use its new-found purchasing power to provide other gas markets in the region, including Russia, and to support energy projects in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The E.U. says it would only agree to the gas purchases after the bloc had a clear understanding of Turkey, with an agreement on terms that is fair and transparent.