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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs