Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s one-day Iran visit on Tuesday aims to tap into business and trade opportunities in the aftermath of the interim nuclear agreement between Iran and major powers last week.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey has welcomed the agreement with Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin saying on Monday Ankara expects business ties to grow after easing international sanctions on Iran.
“We are hoping the easing of sanctions will reflect on in a positive way,” Kalin remarked, stressing that Turkey has long held economic ties with Iran.
He said Ankara has always supported the peaceful resolution to the nuclear disagreements.
Beril Dedeoglu, professor of international relations at Galatasaray University, said Ankara may find Iran more reasonable to develop economic ties rather than with countries like Libya, Syria or Yemen that will remain unstable for some time.
Noting that Turkey and Iran have a complex relationship, she said, “the new situation will reinforce both cooperation and rivalry between these two countries.”
Erdogan’s visit was planned long before the nuclear deal announced last week.
It was part of High Level Cooperation Council, an intergovernmental conference that was set up in January 2014. The first meeting was held in June last year when Iranian President Hassan Rohani visited Ankara on an official visit.
Both countries announced that a joint target of increasing bilateral trade to 30 billion U.S. dollars by 2015.
The trade volume between the two countries was recorded as 13.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, a decrease of six percent from 2013 figure, which was 14.6 billion dollars.
According to the Turkish government data, in the first two months of this year, the volume dropped an additional five-percentage points.
That makes the reaching the target volume of 30 billion U.S. dollars by the end of this year as an elusive figure.
HARSH WORDS EXCHANGED
Erdogan’s visit comes amid growing differences between the two regional heavyweights on an array of regional issues from Syria to Yemen.
The visit was already marred with harsh remarks against Iran by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who accused of Tehran for aiding Shiite Houthis in Yemen. He called on Iran to pull out its forces from Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Erdogan also publicly declared Turkey’s support for a Saudi-led military offensive against Houthis.
Several Iranian officials returned the criticism, calling for the cancellation of Erdogan’s visit, which did not happen.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected Erdogan’s remarks while accusing him of fomenting strife in the region.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish Charge d’Affaires in Tehran to ask for an explanation from Ankara to clarify the president’s criticism of Iran.
Turkish presidential spokesman Kalin told reporters on Monday that there would be no change to Erdogan’s previously scheduled visit to Iran and that he will be meeting with his counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
However, 65 Iranian lawmakers reportedly asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to urge the Turkish president to issue an apology during the visit. Kalin downplayed the call, dubbing the effort as part of populist policies by lawmakers.
Yemen will be on the table during the bilateral meetings, Kalin stated, stressing that Turkey wants a solution to this crisis on the negotiation table.
Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabian interior minister and deputy crown prince, was expected to arrive Turkey and meet with Erdogan to discuss Yemen, Gulf news agency reported on Monday.
Turkish opposition is highly critical of Turkey’s siding with Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party CHP lawmaker Osman Koruturk has said that Turkey needs to readjust its policies in the Middle East and stop supporting Saudi-led operation in order to maintain its regional influence.
Pointing out that international capital will flow to Iran after the easing of sanctions and that Turkey needs to work on ways to boost trade with Iran.

DISPUTE ON GAS PRICE
During the visit, Turkey is expected to sign agreements with Iran on energy, economy, customs and health.
Turkey is major buyer for Iranian oil and natural gas. It seeks a price reduction on the gas for some time but Iran that has been providing the most expensive gas to Turkey among other suppliers Russia and Azerbaijan, balked at the Turkish request.
Turkey’s state-run Petroleum Pipeline Corporation BOTAS applied to an international court of arbitration in 2012 for a ruling on Iran’s gas pricing.
The case is still pending. The ruling is expected in May.
“Iran is important because of its natural resources and also because of its key position in the Caspian Basin and its contacts with the Central Asia,” Dedeoglu underlined.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz will accompany the Turkish president during the visit to discuss pricing dispute with Iranian counterpart.
He will also seek opportunities to link Iranian gas to Europe through Turkey once the sanctions are lifted. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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