|Turkish minister criticizes EU sanctions against Iran||
TEHRAN – Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan has criticized the European Union over Turkey’s gold trade with Iran, saying that the sanctions do not concern Turkey.
“The EU has decided on sanctions. I’m selling. Another’s sanctions don’t concern me,” he told reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Today’s Zaman reproted.
He made the comments as the EU steps up pressure on Turkey’s “gas for gold” trade with Iran to which Turkey exported over $10 billion in gold over the past year. The deal has helped Tehran circumvent international sanctions and maintained Ankara’s critical natural gas and oil shipments from its second-largest energy supplier.
Energy-import dependent Turkey imports 8 to 12 billion cubic meters of gas annually -- around 20 percent of its total natural gas -- from Iran, a quantity that analysts say Ankara could not secure from other exporters in the region.
The “gas for gold” trade has increasingly irked the EU and U.S., which in November banned selling precious metals to the country.
In comments carried by the Anatolia news agency, Caglayan bluntly told reporters at a press conference on Friday that pressure on Turkey to halt the trade would fall on deaf ears, telling the EU to “go and look after its own firms,” rather than pressure Ankara over the gold trade.
Earlier this year, the U.S. agreed to exempt Turkey’s oil trade with Tehran after Ankara pledged to reduce its imports from Iran, though pressure has since grown to end the trade.
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