Turkey determined to enhance ties with Iran: Erdogan

October 28, 2009 - 0:0

TEHRAN - In a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is determined to enhance its ties with Iran.

Ahmadinejad told Erdogan that unity is the best way to turn threats into opportunities.
Iran and Turkey are two brotherly nations that have common interests and are facing similar threats, and if they strengthen their unity, they will be able to overcome the threats and take advantage of the opportunities, he noted.
“Iran-Turkey bilateral relations are not only in the interests of the two nations, but also (in the interests of) the region and the world,” the Iranian president observed.
He also stressed the need to maintain unity among all regional states in order to foil the plots hatched by the enemy, the Presidential Press Department reported.
“The presence and interference of foreign powers have created many economic and security problems for regional countries… and the stronger the relations of the regional states, the less threats the region will face,” Ahmadinejad noted, adding, “Today, the West has theoretically and practically reached an impasse in its policy.”
He also praised Turkey’s stance on Israel, saying, “The Zionist regime is a threat to all nations… it cannot tolerate the existence of any strong country in the region.”
Two weeks ago, Turkey barred Israel from a NATO exercise, a decision that angered Israel and prompted rare criticism from Turkey’s ally the United States. The war games were cancelled after other nations, including the United States and Italy, refused to take part without Israel.
Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel have suffered since Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter. At the time, Erdogan accused Israel of committing crimes against humanity.
Praising Ankara’s stance on Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, Ahmadinejad said that when a country “has illegal access to nuclear weapons,” others cannot be deprived of the right to access to nuclear technology solely for the purpose of generating electricity.
The Turkish prime minister called for the expansion of Tehran-Ankara ties and said, “Turkey is determined to enhance its brotherly relations with Iran.”
On Iran’s participation in the Nabucco gas pipeline project, Erdogan said, “Sooner or later, Nabucco (the project’s parties) will discover the importance of the Islamic Republic’s involvement in the project.”
The Nabucco gas pipeline project is designed to pump Central Asian gas via Turkey to Austria and Germany through Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, bypassing Russia. Gas supplies through the pipeline are expected to start in 2014.
The project will be a continuation of the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline and will transport 20 billion cubic meters of gas a year. Two-thirds of the pipeline will pass through Turkish territory.
Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Iraq are being touted as potential suppliers.
Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia and the second biggest oil reserves in OPEC after Saudi Arabia.
The Nabucco pipeline is seen as a rival to the Moscow-backed South Stream project, which is designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and onto other European countries, with the pipeline’s capacity expected to be eventually increased to 63 billion cubic meters annually.
Erdogan and his high-ranking delegation arrived in Tehran on Monday night.
During his two-day stay in Iran, the Turkish prime minister is also scheduled to meet with Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani.
He will also attend a joint economic meeting between Iran and Turkey and a press conference and hold a meeting with a number of Iranian merchants and tradesmen at the Iranian Chamber of Commerce.
Erdogan’s delegation of 200 high-ranking political and economic officials includes 20 Turkish MPs, Turkey’s ministers of foreign affairs, energy, foreign trade, culture, environment, and industry, and eighty representatives of private sector companies as well as 30 media representatives.
It is the Turkish prime minister’s second trip to Iran over the past four years.
Ahead of his visit to Iran, Erdogan traveled to Pakistan on Saturday for a two-day trip and met with Pakistani officials in Islamabad.