We were at the ropes. Still almost half a minute to the end of the round. Left eye closed. A curtain of blood shielding the other one, as the eyebrow is cut. Throwing a rare haymaker in the air without really connecting with anything of significance. Footwork slow, knees half bent. Saved by the gong, at the end of what seems to be interminable seconds. Even finding the chair at our corner seemed no easy task. 

Coach whispered to our ear: Greatest natural gas reserve find ever in history! What?! We can now even see through the ballooning purple left eyelids. We get knocked down but get up again, as the famous Chumbawamba pub song goes. When we get back into the match, the crowd is hilarious. Some among them are wiping their tears of joy. Now, we are energetically dancing around the adversary. Delivering punch after punch, swinging. 

Right in there, right in your face. Hence is, more rather than less, the latest PR stunt that we are led to believe. Mr. Önder Algedik in his column for our sister Gazete Duvar edition masterfully enumerates the obvious facts: It took two months for the drillship to get started with its exploration task. Yet within three weeks it hit the jackpot.  

Not only that. Taking the data till now shared with the public granted, this “project” will take at least seven years to materialize. Lo and behold, with the will of the sole decision-maker imposed, now the gas will be in your kitchen by 2023, that is in three years’ time and happily coinciding with the next elections. Furthermore, Turkey annually pays due to its take or pay agreements 20 bcm gas that exceeds its country wide consumption. National overall consumption in 2019 is less than 2015.    

So, the “good news” do not fly far much. An eminent expert with 26 years of experience at the TPAO under his belt, Mr. Necdet Pamir reminds us that global giant Schlumberger operates the government owned drillships and that, with merely one well being drilled one cannot pretend to know the quality and the volume of a gas reserve.   

Mr. Hakan Çelik from his government mouthpiece Posta paper daily column conveniently “broke” the story of how one Scot and a Croat working on the aptly named Fatih drillship acquired Turkish citizenship. Exactly reflecting how in the times of great Fatih himself “The Conqueror” Sultan Mehmet’s time, a Hungarian engineer et al had converted to Islam to serve at the royal court to cast the moulds of the cannons that eventually destroyed Constantinopolis’ city walls.       

In short yes, what would have been a happy event in “ceteris paribus” conditions, is met with either sarcasm at worst or with scepticism at best in today’s Turkey. Why? Because first of all due to all the above mentioned PR hype, including an “official” leaking to Reuters just two days before the none other but the President himself that not 800 bcm but 320 bcm of “proven” –or not so proven- natural gas reserves were found just at a stone throw at large of Turkey’s main industrial hub. 

Then it was followed by the usual mysterious “at the same time” news as the creation of a rapid-reaction police force in Istanbul directly responding to the presidency and as the opening of Chora Church which enjoyed museum status like the Hagia Sophia to prayers. To add insult to injury, Deputy Economy Minister Mr. Nurettin Canikli had the guts to doubt Finch’s good will in yet again downgrading Turkey’s credit rating although it was common knowledge to all that the said agency had publicly shared that information as early as in December, 2019. 

All turned more or less to a farce of searched for greatness -again. President Erdoğan and his entourage including all the extending crowd of palace sycophants have all an understanding of “power” in its 19thcentury sense. There is an ear bursting claim of self-confidence, and at the same time, as in all loud claims, an apparent fear of doomsday rears its ugly yellow face. Here, the story is neither a technical nor an economical one. It is a political and an utterly banal one at that.         

No one with a modicum of logic buys the ready-made comeback story of the heavy weight boxer. All signs lead to an early or snap election. Almost next door in Belarus, crowds stubbornly pour intı the streets to wave their own dear leader goodbye. Down here, an ever growing number of apparatchiks with ambitions bigger than their intellect and capabilities dig their claws deeper into their mahogany desks. The opposition again is standing to attention. Only God knows which comes next.