Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Turkish Prime Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu speak to the media before a meeting in
Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Biden is visiting
Turkey and is the latest in a stream of U.S. officials who
have traveled to Turkey to urge Ankara to step up its role
in fighting Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria.
ISTANBUL — U.S.
Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday called on Europe to continue
diversifying its energy supplies to reduce dependence on Russia,
which he said should not be allowed to use its vast gas and oil
resources as a geopolitical tool.
now is the time to act," Biden said, speaking at the Atlantic
Council's energy security summit in Istanbul. "What's
happening in Ukraine only underscores the urgency."
and the European Union last month thrashed out a $4.6 billion deal
that will guarantee Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and further on
to the European Union. The deal eased fears that Europe will end
up shivering this winter like it did in 2009, when a spat over
Ukraine's gas bill prompted Russia to cut off energy supplies to
Europe for nearly two weeks.
Moscow had cut
off gas supplies to Ukraine in June over unpaid debts, a move that
followed the ouster of Ukraine's Russia-friendly leader and the
Kremlin's annexation of Crimea in March. Talks dragged on for five
months amid fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian
insurgents and government troops. But the looming onset of winter
— a fierce, freezing season in Ukraine — gave the talks
been aware that this single source of energy has been a problem
for a long time," Biden said. "But my message is not
that Europe can or should do away with Russian imports."
He said he had no
doubt that Russia would continue to be a main energy supplier in
about energy security. To achieve it, Europe needs to ensure it
diversifies," Biden said. "Russia can and should be a
player, but Russia has to play by the rules."
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also spoke, outlining major
diversification projects in the works.
should not be used as a weapon. ... Energy is a tool for
peace," Davutoglu said.
Later in the day,
Biden was scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip