News / Middle East

Iran Sanctions Pose Diplomatic Conundrum for Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan (file photo)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid