U.S. sanctions won't hit trade with Turkey: envoy

May 8, 2011
Sanctions imposed on Iran will do nothing to slow the country’s growing trade and economic ties with Turkey, the Iranian ambassador to Ankara said Thursday, suggesting that the Turkish government will not give in to pressure from Washington. “We have been facing embargos for the last 33 years. We have increased our bilateral trade to $11 billion with Turkey and to $23 billion with the European Union. These embargos have no meaning,” the ambassador, Bahman Hosseinpour, told a group of Ankara bureau chiefs. Turkey’s neighbor is under heavy sanctions imposed by the United Nations and unilaterally by the United States and the European Union due to Tehran’s alleged disobedience of the rules of the international community over its nuclear program. The sanctions restrict financial transactions with some designated Iranian institutions and limit foreign companies’ investments, particularly in the field of energy. “The Turkish government has already announced that it will only abide by the UN sanctions. Do you think Turkey listens whatever the U.S. says? No, it does not,” said Hosseinpour. Turkey is under heavy pressure from the U.S. Treasury as some Turkish banks are continuing to conduct financial transactions with Iran’s Bank Mellat in Turkey. The U.S. Treasury has already threatened one Turkish institution with being blacklisted if it does not cut its ties to Bank Mellat. Despite the American pressure, relations between Turkey and Iran have improved to an unprecedented level, the Iranian envoy said, noting that next week’s visit to Turkey by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be his fifth since 2009. “The number of delegations visiting each other’s countries is more than the sum of these sorts of delegations since the Iranian Revolution (in 1979),” Hosseinpour said. Ahmadinejad will attend the UN-led Least Developed Countries summit slated for May 9 to 13 in Istanbul. Trade value between Iran and Turkey could go up to $16 billion at the end of this year, the ambassador said, noting that the figures from the first three months of 2011 have already shown a 70 percent increase. The number of Iranian tourists to Turkey could also go up to 2.5 million, as the number of Turkish investors in Iran increases, the envoy said. “The groundbreaking ceremony of the joint customs gate at Esendere will take place in two months’ time. Similarly we will also begin joint investments on oilfields,” Hosseinpour said. “This relationship between Turkey and Iran is irreversible,” he added. “It may slow down but won’t be reversed.” (Source: Hürriyet Daily News)