News / Middle East

    Turkish President Heads to Iran to Boost Ties

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul, left, is welcomed by his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during welcoming ceremony for him, in Tehran, Iran, February 14, 2011
    Turkish President Abdullah Gul, left, is welcomed by his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during welcoming ceremony for him, in Tehran, Iran, February 14, 2011
    Dorian Jones

    The Turkish president is starting his three-day visit to Iran Monday, which is aimed at developing political and trade ties with its neighbor. The two countries have committed themselves to tripling bilateral trade. But the visit comes at a sensitive time, with Turkey's western allies pushing for the economic isolation of the country because of concerns over Iran's controversial nuclear energy program.

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul is being accompanied by more than 100 businessmen during his meetings in Iran. Turkey and Iran earlier this month have committed themselves to tripling the current $10 billion in bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2015.

    Burak Ozgergin, a Turkey foreign ministry official, said Turkey's engagement with Iran offers the best way forward. "The way to get the Iranians to cooperate, not to threaten them with sanctions, but offer cooperation to them. In other words the carrot not the stick. Because what we are afraid of, is that there is a natural opposition in Iran to cooperating with the West."

    Gul, in an interview ahead of his visit, said Iran's nuclear issue should be solved through negotiations and Turkey will continue to facilitate this.

    Turkey, a NATO member and a candidate for joining the EU, has been positioning itself as a mediator. Last year it helped broker an agreement with Iran. But the deal was dismissed by the international community, with one senior EU diplomat referring to it as a fiasco.
    Last month, the latest round of talks between Iran and the international community collapsed, resulting in calls for further economic sanctions against Tehran.

    Political scientist Cengiz Aktar said the timing of the Turkish president's visit to Iran is a sign of how out of step Turkey is with it western allies.

    "I think overconfidence is a very, very bad adviser, especially in international relations," said Aktar. "Turkey is becoming a strong country. But Turkey does not mean anything by itself. Turkey, a bit like Germany and France, is a middle-sized power and we should not exaggerate its strength. I think the government should understand that the 21 century is not a the century of free riders, but the century of cooperation."

    Despite close ties with the EU and the U.S., Turkey has said it will only enforce U.N. sanctions against Iran. Earlier this month, several Turkish companies were blacklisted by the U.S. for violating its Iranian sanctions. Despite the move, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there will be no change in policy. "Everyone knows our stance on sanctions on Iran," said Erdogan.

    Deepening economic ties with Iran are expected to focus primarily on energy. Iran is Turkey's second largest supplier of natural gas. Observers say Ankara is keen for Turkish companies to develop Iran's energy sector, especially as many international competitors have withdrawn due to tightening sanctions.

    Ankara also sees Iran as playing a key role in helping to develop Turkey as a regional energy hub. Chief economist Emre Yigit of Turkish based Global Securities says this is in Europe's interest as well.

    "The whole point of Nabucco pipeline, for example, is to diversify the source of European natural gas imports away from Russia and this will have to include the Iranians," said Yigit. "Turkey will play along with the European view. People can vote for sanctions and yet make their plans on the assumption in the long term these sanctions will no longer apply."

    Is Turkey playing a strategic long-term game, acting in the interests of its neighbors, as well as its western allies, or is it becoming an increasingly maverick state? The Turkish president's visit to Iran likely will support both arguments. But if the controversy over Iran's nuclear program deepens, as expected, observers say the present diplomatic balancing act that Turkey is performing will become much harder to maneuver.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    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 Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora