Iran and Turkey have consulted each other for a Free Trade
Agreement to be implemented in stages.
The recent state
visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has served to bring
attention to the ties between Iran and Turkey, and how these relations have
been improving during the past few years. Both sides believe that, despite
some uneasy disagreements, these relations are in a very good situation at the
moment and developing each day. The two countries have deep and sincere
cooperation in almost every field and we have succeeded to have a real
relation based on mutual confidence, security and thoughts of cooperation. It
is believed that Turkey and Iran as neighbors will always have good relations
because we are now living in a world where cooperation, coexistence, peace,
stability and prosperity rather than conflicts, disputes and disagreements
play the leading role for nations. One of the major achievements of the last
couple of years in the history of Turkish-Iranian relations has been that the
two sides have learned to solve their disagreements through dialogue, and have
learned to share their interests. They have learned that there are no black
and white solutions. One of the most remarkable points which can be
highlighted to demonstrate the importance of these relationships is the number
of high level visits between the Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers of
Foreign Affairs of the two countries over the past couple of years, which is a
relatively short time in international relations.
Turkey itself is an important energy consumer and is
also an energy hub, which makes it a very important center for the
distribution of energy resources.
construction of the Iran-Turkey gas pipeline is considered to be an important
development in the region and a vital factor to tie the two countries
together. In this regard, Turkish Ambassador to Tehran, Selahattin Alpar, has
said: “I think the developments in the gas pipeline originating from Iran to
Turkey and its possible extension to Western or Central Europe are very
important projects which Turkey supports wholeheartedly. We have been
interested in these projects since the early 1980s and I was working on these
projects even at that time, 25 years ago. I am particularly glad to see that
now the gas starts flowing in this pipeline and that Iran is one of the main
gas suppliers in the region.”
Turkey itself is an important energy
consumer country on the one hand and is also an energy hub on the other, which
makes it a very important center for the distribution of energy resources, be
it natural gas or oil, in other directions. This fact has gained additional
significance in the contemporary world as natural gas is becoming more and
more important as a primary source of energy and therefore the flow of natural
gas from Turkey to Western Europe has become highly significant. However
Turkey has made statements along the lines that Iran should invest more in its
gas fields to extract more gas to export and the pricing will also need to be
competitive and unified all around the world.
Currently Turkey enjoys relations with
Greece and other EU countries involved in this project, which are said to
brighten the prospects for the successful completion of the Iran-Europe gas
pipeline through Turkey. The Iran-Turkey gas pipeline is being extended
towards Western Europe through two main arteries: one through Romania,
Bulgaria, Austria and Hungry and the other through Greece and Italy. It is
believed that the more European countries get involved in this project, the
higher its likelihood success.
The flow of Iranian gas to Western Europe is in the
best interest of many European nations because it not only diversifies
their sources of energy but also opens their market to competition.
Turkey is a candidate to the European
Union and as such it has already started to implement the rules and standards
of the European Union in privatizing its energy markets and therefore any
source of energy project, if feasible, shall be implemented. Secondly the flow
of Iranian gas to Western European markets is in the best interest of many
European nations because it not only diversifies their sources of energy but
it also opens their market into competition from various energy sources.
Therefore Western European countries and Greece are all interested in buying
Iranian gas which constitutes a fundamental for the success of the project.
Besides there are some project support from the European Union Funds in
finalizing this pipeline which further reinforces the success of the project.
Of course the Iranian oil and gas authorities are also very much interested in
accomplishing this project. We should remember that feasibility, transport
fees, cost of gas and its end use are various aspects which need to be studied
very carefully in detail.
Trade: There has
always been wide scope of economic and trade cooperation between Iran and
Turkey. Last year the two states signed an important agreement to harmonize
their standards. Turkey has long been a member of the European Union
Standards. Now the same could be adopted by Iran facilitating trade exchanges
and also custom operations.
Iran and Turkey
have consulted each other for a Free Trade Agreement to be implemented in
stages, with both governments believing that free trade is an essential
service that governments provide for their people. It is said to be the
natural right of the consumers to pay less for the things that they consume.
Therefore, taxes, custom duties and other levies imposed on trade should be
reduced to lowest amount possible. Iran and Turkey are now bilaterally
discussing more liberal tax free regime of many goods and services. Once they
finalize these discussions the people of both countries will benefit much from
Iran and Turkey are now discussing a more liberal tax
regime. Once they finalize these discussions the people of both countries
will benefit much from this agreement.
Turkey in the
Region: Turkey is
following a very pro-active economic policy both in CIS and in Caucasian
region as it believes the two regions are complementary to each other. Turkey
has excellent relations with Georgia and also with Azerbaijan. Similarly it
enjoys very good relations with the Central Asian Republics. This underlines
the Eurasia terminology, which means that this route through Turkey links
Europe to Central Asia. Therefore any economic activity within that region can
be done through Turkey and Iran. Like the East-West and North-South transport
corridors, or like many ports which are in Turkey’s Black Sea and in the
Persian Gulf, which complement each other. Both Turkey and Iran are said to
have important roles to play in the civil and economic development of these
Also, Turkey and
Iran are both active members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).
ECO is a very important regional organization where Turkey has vital
interests. Therefore ECO constitutes a high priority on the Turkish agenda as
well as in the program of the 59th Government of the Republic of Turkey.
Turkey aims to accelerate and develop cooperation with ECO in many fields of
priority such as transportation, energy, trade, environment, industry and
agriculture. Turkey has repeated said it would like to see the impediments to
the development of good cooperation removed. The joint understanding which
exists between Turkey, Iran and Pakistan is said to help a lot in this matter.
Turkey & Iraq:
On the Iraqi situation,
there has been talk that the occupying forces are contemplating to slice Iraq
into mini states including the creation of a Kurdish state in the North. This
is while Turkey identifies Iraq as an important neighborly country. Turkey has
always had close relations with Iraq in many fields, political and economic.
Anything that happens in Iraq has a potential to have its repercussions in
Turkey and many other neighboring countries like Iran as well. Therefore,
Turkey would like to see unity among the people of Iraq. Turkey would like to
see a sovereign Iraq with territorial integrity. Turkey would like to see
political unity, peace and prosperity flourishing in Iraq. Turkey would like
to have a stable neighbor. These are values that are also shared by people of
Iran as well.
whole region would like to see Iraq genuinely deciding on its future. The
whole of the Iraqi people should decide, rather than one or two groups
deciding what Iraq will become in the future. Therefore Turkey has joined
those countries or groups in Iraq who advocate that each single citizen of
Iraq should have a say. This is the way to do it, rather than any solution
being imposed from outside on the Iraqi people. These sorts of unilateral
approaches cannot have sound and universal bases. There are many examples of
such kind of approaches in international policies. Therefore it is hoped that
in the near future the Iraqi people will vote for a constituent assembly in
which the future constitution of Iraq will be formed and the model of the
future government and state will be established through the direct votes of
Iraqi citizens. Then free elections can be held to have a new government in
Iraq. Turkey will support this process as much as it is desired and
appreciated by Iraqi people.
to the fact that Turkey already has a Custom Union with the European Union,
many question what it will gain from become a full EU member. To this Turkish
officials have said that Turkey’s joining of the European Union is merely a
political project, a philosophy. It is not an economic project. Turkey
considers itself a part of Europe. Historically, its social developments have
always been, they claim, achieved through Western European standards.
Therefore they believe Turkey’s joining the EU can only be considered as the
completion of a project which started many years ago. From that point of view
Turkey is thought to have quite an important task to achieve politically,
socially, and legally. Because EU membership is not only conditional on trade
agreements but also requires implementing certain standards on daily social,
political and legal life. Therefore Turkey is trying to act in harmony with
Western Europe. They have already adopted the same values and systems which
are being put into practice in most Western European countries.
factor of religious differences will always stay, Turkey doesn’t see this as
an impediment to its union with the EU. The EU has always talked about the
rich mosaic of cultures within the European countries such as the Greek, the
Spanish, the German, and the Danish cultures. There are different sects of the
same religion present now in the Union. The European Union as such was
established on the foundation of differences of cultures. The nice part of it
is to preserve these differences in harmony. When Turkey becomes a member of
the EU, it will also preserve its culture and religious beliefs and by so
doing it will also add to this rich mosaic of togetherness.