News / Middle East

    Iran Sanctions Pose Diplomatic Conundrum for Turkey

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan (file photo)
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan (file photo)
    Dorian Jones

    The U.S. has been quietly ratcheting up economic and financial pressure on Iran amid signs that talks about Tehran's suspect nuclear program could resume next month. But this push, along with sanctions from the EU and United Nations, could cause some diplomatic friction for Turkey which opposes Iranian sanctions.

    When German President Christian Wulff addressed the Turkish parliament this week he appealed for Turkey to support sanctions against its neighbor Iran.

    He asked Ankara to support the U.N.'s push for tighter restrictions against Iran, and said it was now up to Tehran to take action and ease the international community's concerns.

    Turkey voted against the latest round of U.N. Security Council sanctions. It has since said it will enforce those measures, but not the more stringent sanctions introduced by the European Union and the United States.

    Selim Yenel is the spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry:

    "We feel that we are only bound by U.N. sanctions, because we don't believe sanctions work and we want to keep Iran at the negotiating table and nobody discussed these unilateral sanctions by the U.S. and the EU we don't feel obliged to abide by them," said Selim Yenel.

    In fact since the trade-based sanctions by the U.S. and EU were introduced, the Turkish government has made improving trade with Iran a priority.

    Last month in Istanbul, the two countries committed themselves to tripling trade volumes from $14 billion to $42 billion.

    But international relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University says it's more posturing than substance. He argues Turkish companies are quite aware that they would face penalties either in the U.S. or Europe if they broke their sanctions.

    "I mean no, company that has extensive business in the U.S. is going to do it," said Soli Ozel. "Is is not as if the Turkish government is ordering companies to do business with Iran. All its saying is I must have my own autonomous room, and companies that have no interest in the U.S. may be interested but that is limited as well."

    According to a western intelligence source, however, there is growing concern that Turkey, with its highly developed financial sector and, in particular its state banks, could be used by Iran to circumvent sanctions and purchase equipment for its nuclear program.  

    Mellat, Iran's second largest bank,  which has been blacklisted by both the EU and U.S. under their new sanctions, continues to have offices in three Turkish cities. According to observers there is no visible evidence that the bank is facing any restrictions by Turkish authorities.

    In August, a high level U.S. government delegation visited Turkey and cautioned companies against breaking Washington's sanctions.  Only this month, the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu re-iterated his country's commitment to Iran.

    Iran is an important neighbor to us and we have significant commercial and energy ties, he says. Their unilateral decisions are not legally binding.

    This week, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence , Stuart Levey, held fresh talks with both Turkish government officials and private financial companies over its sanctions policy. Foreign ministry spokesman Yenel says they are aware of the risks but says the United States has no jurisdiction over Turkey

    "Well we hope that it won't come to that," he said. "Definitely,  we will look very carefully on what is going to entail those who are in business with Iran. But we feel that we are only bound by U.N. sanctions."

    Emre Yigit chief economist of Turkish trading house Global Securities says the increasingly tough stance by the EU and U.S. is unrealistic.

    "Iran was is and will remain a neighbor of Turkey it's bit like telling France that for some reason you should not import anything from Germany, or the United Kingdom that should stop with the rest of the European Union," said Emre Yigit. "This is not necessarily going to happen."

    Unlike EU members, Turkey's economy is enjoying record growth. Much of that success is due to the country diversifying its trade away from its traditional trading partners in Europe and turning towards its neighbors in the Middle East. With Iran increasingly isolated, the potential for trade is considerable, but so is the risk that Ankara will end up on a collision course with both the U.S. and EU.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora