Ankara-Tehran relations: Realities and Hopes

Photo: Ankara-Tehran relations: Realities and Hopes / Politics

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 10

By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to Turkey is of great importance for both countries. His delegation consisting of seven ministers and 90 representatives of private companies testifies to the significance of President Rouhani's visit to Ankara.

The issue of intensifying the economic ties between the two countries was undoubtedly one of the main topics of discussion along with regional issues (the Syrian crisis, political tension in Iraq) at a meeting between Iranian and Turkish presidents.

After the meeting, the Iranian president expressed Tehran's desire to cooperate with Ankara in a number of areas, including the banking sector, tourism and mining.

During the meetings the representatives of both countries agreed on bringing the annual trade turnover between the two countries from the current $15 billion to $ 30 billion by 2020. If one takes into account the economic potential of both countries, one can assume that the trade turnover between the two countries will grow to this level by 2020. The economic ties between the two countries may seem to develop in all spheres, but this does not correspond to the reality.

Turkey's claim against Iran submitted to the court of arbitration will be one of the most important topics of discussion during President Rouhani's visit to Ankara.

Iran must export 10 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey annually, according to the contract signed in 1996. Although the gas price is a commercial secret and not disclosed, according to the Turkish media, every thousand cubic meters of gas exported by Tehran cost Ankara $490.

This amount didn't suit Turkey and it appealed to the International Court of Arbitration in 2012 demanding a 30-percent discount for the Iranian gas.
Iran agreed to offer a discount provided Turkey increases the volume of gas imports. But currently, it is not in Turkey's interest.

Another discussed issue is Iran's intention to cooperate with other Turkish banks, alongside Halkbank. The international currency transfers to Iran have been banned since March 2012, due to the embargos against this country. Despite this, Turkey's Halkbank carries out money transfers to Iran. Taking into account the sanctions, any other Turkish bank will hardly decide to cooperate with Iran in the sphere of international currency transfers.

But it would be not right to assess the Turkish-Iranian relations only from the economic point of view. Currently, both Turkey and Iran are influential states in the political arena. In particular, it is impossible to imagine the Middle Eastern policy without Ankara and Tehran. But it doesn't mean that the interests of these two countries predominate in the region.

Despite the fact that Ankara and Tehran have many disagreements in the political arena (the Syrian crisis, political tension in Iraq, the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt), the cooperation between them can create at least a temporary stability in the region.

Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Arabic News Service

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