News / Europe

    Turkey's Erdogan Visits Iran to Improve Ties After Syria Split

    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talk during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 29, 2014. A portrait of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini hangs on the wall.
    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talk during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 29, 2014. A portrait of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini hangs on the wall.
    Reuters
    Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Iran on Wednesday to bolster trade and energy ties, state TV said, in what also looked like a bid to defuse tensions over Syria by capitalizing on Tehran's diplomatic opening to regional rivals and the West.

    Iran has been a strong strategic ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the uprising against him, while Turkey has been one of his fiercest critics, supporting his opponents and giving refuge to rebel fighters.

    But Iran's election last June of President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who says he wants to thaw Iran's ties with the West, and shared concern over the rise of al-Qaida in Syria, have spurred hopes of a Turkish-Iranian rapprochement.

    While deep divisions remain between Ankara and Tehran over the conflict in Syria, diplomats and government officials say both sides want to mend a relationship that could be pivotal to the fast-changing political map of the Middle East.

    The United States believes detente between Turkey and Iran is important to wider stability in the Middle East, a strategic breakthrough Washington hopes to achieve from talks that world powers are pursuing with Tehran to curb its nuclear program.

    Erdogan met Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as Rouhani, whose foreign policy of “prudence and moderation” has eased Tehran's international isolation and revived contact with longtime arch-enemy Washington.

    “Our relations with Turkey have entered a new phase and we hope this trend continues. Besides serving the interests of the two countries, we hope our dialog (with Turkey) serve regional interests as well,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told reporters in Tehran. “As two neighbors and Muslim countries, Iran and Turkey enjoy many commonalities and many cooperation opportunities.”

    Analysts said the main focus of Erdogan's visit was expanding economic cooperation, finessing any political disputes for now. “Considering that the economy and energy ministers are accompanying Erdogan, we can say this trip is business-targeted,” said Tehran-based analyst Hossein Foroughi.

    Erdogan signed three trade deals on Wednesday before leaving Tehran to fly home, Iranian state television said.

    “Today we had a good chance to review bilateral ties,” Erdogan said in remarks translated into Farsi by Iranian television as it showed him meeting Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.

    “I would like to mention specifically, and to express my satisfaction with, the agreement we signed in the preferential trade field,” he said. “It is obvious that we import from Iran crude oil and gas, which are strategic energy sources, and we (will be) able to increase the volume of these imports.”

    No details were immediately released about the three trade pacts or Erdogan's meetings with Khamenei and Rouhani, who plans to visit Turkey within the next few months, according to Iranian and Turkish media.

    Seeking natural gas discount

    Erdogan's delegation repeated Turkey's demand for a discount on the price of natural gas from Iran, a senior Turkish official said. A senior Iranian official then told Reuters: “This issue was discussed but further talks will take place on the issue of discount. No decision has been made yet.”

    Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its natural gas needs and the $60 billion energy bill Ankara must foot annually has been the biggest driver of its ballooning current account deficit, regarded as the main weakness of its economy.

    Ankara deems Iranian gas too expensive compared with other suppliers like Russia and Azerbaijan, an assertion rejected by Tehran. Turkey's Petroleum Pipeline Corporation applied to an international court of arbitration in 2012 for a ruling on  Iran's gas pricing. The case is still pending.

    Turkey is keen to increase oil and gas imports from Tehran in anticipation of sanctions against Iran's huge energy sector being dismantled in the wake of the Nov. 24 deal between Tehran and six big powers under which the Islamic Republic committed to scaling back some of its controversial nuclear activities.

    Some sanctions that were imposed over suspicions that Iran is covertly trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability, something it denies, were relaxed starting on Jan. 20.

    But most sanctions, including a severe squeeze on Iran's access to the international financial system, remain in force pending a long-term agreement on the scope of Iran's nuclear program, which is to be negotiated over the next six months.

    Potential market bonanza in Iran

    But the potential of a market of 76 million people in Iran with some of the world's biggest oil and gas reserves is a magnet for foreign investors, including Turkish companies.

    “We hope the process will be finalized with an agreement that will ensure the removal of all sanctions on Iran. Turkey has so far done its best in that regard and will continue to do so,” Erdogan told reporters in Ankara before he flew to Tehran.

    Iranian officials say trade between the countries stood at $22 billion [16.2 billion euros] in 2012, before dipping to $20 billion in 2013, and that it should reach $30 billion in 2015.

    Iran was Turkey's third largest export market in 2012. In fact, Iranian media said, Turkey exports more than 20,000 products to Iran, among them gold and silver.

    The United States has been unhappy over continued trade with Iran by its Turkish ally sidestepping the sanctions regime, and has blacklisted some Turkish firms involved.

    U.S. Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen, who visited Turkey just before Erdogan's Iran trip, warned the Turkish government against any rapid improvement of trade and economic links with the Islamic Republic before a final nuclear agreement is struck, according to Turkish media.

    “Businesses interested in engaging in Iran really should hold off. The day may come when Iran is open for business, but the day is not today,” Zaman newspaper quoted Cohen as saying.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    January 30, 2014 8:30 AM
    Foremost two islamist regimes living side by side in the region cannot just accept to be divided along US lines. There's so much going for the two countries, and we are not in a hurry to forget the trouble Erdogan created for Israel over spy racket in Iran, all because of keeping with islamist agenda. Now it is economic visit. Everyone understands that not the jump starting of relations by Britain will be about to change deep rooted distrust for the Anglo-America in the Ottoman/Persian enclave. At the end it will be such relations that will benefit from the fallout of the western waste of time trying to agree on a sanctions regime that they have not been able to sustain, thus half-heartedly lifting sanctions to try to hide deep crevices of discord within the NATO/EU axis.

    Surely the US seems about to be left behind by its so-called European allies which are forcing it to a cursory mending of fences with Iran over sanctions for its nuclear program, as well as they have moved to restart relations with Cuba in spite of USA.. Believe it, the dexterity of these islamist leaders seems to be something the CIA/NSA have not been able to counter. And Erdogan seems bent on ensuring it stands up while seeking for regional control and power.

    by: Mbanana from: usa
    January 29, 2014 2:55 PM
    here in one room you have the concentrated filth of the world... missing are Hamas, Hizbulla, AlQaeda, Islamic Shura, Muslim Brotherhood and aunt Zeituni Onyango... and Ancle Omar... LOL

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora