Iran cites Turkey as priority, proposes new economic plan
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
A picture taken on January 18, 2016 shows vehicles driving on a street in front of the Azadi Tower in the capital Tehran. / AFP / ATTA KENARE
A senior Iranian official has cited Turkey as a “priority” in boosting trade relations in the aftermath of the removal of sanctions, proposing to establish a new economic plan for the development of overall economic ties.
“The Turkish state and government, which had stood with us during the implementation of sanctions, are of course among our priorities in this new process as the sanctions have been removed. We are aware of the capacity of Turkish companies and also of the capacity of Iranian companies. But in this new era we should introduce a new economic plan because the mechanisms that we had been utilizing during the sanctions will not respond to the necessities of this new era,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview Feb. 10.
Iran has emerged as a new center of attraction for the world’s largest economies, after the removal of sanctions allowed the oil-rich country to access more than $100 billion in assets abroad as well as increase oil and natural gas exports to consumers. In an interview Iranian ambassador to Turkey Ali Reza Bikdeli said the Iranian energy portfolio was up to $300 billion.
Rahimpur described the removal of sanctions as a “miracle and renaissance” that would have very significant impacts on the region and the world. In this new era, Turkey and Iran will engage in intensified dialogue with high-level visits and meetings, he stressed, recalling that the Turkey-Iran High-Level Cooperation Council will hold its third meeting in 2016.
Why should Turkey stay behind?
With the removal of sanctions Iran is in the process of strengthening its economy while Turkey has lost some of its big markets, the Iranian diplomat said, adding, “We can therefore work together. Countries that had not stood with us during sanctions are now stepping forward. Why should Turkey, which stood with us during the sanctions, not be in front and stay behind?”
The Iranian diplomat said a slowdown in bilateral economic relations was observed in 2015 but it was time to look ahead. “2015 has passed; we are now looking at 2016. Energy, trade, investments and industry are areas where we think we can go ahead,” he said.
Although Turkey and Iran differ on a number of international issues, particularly on Syria, they never cut communication channels and dialogue, Rahimpour said, “We should give hand-in-hand to defeat terrorism [in the region] and allow those who left their houses in Syria to return home. And then we should work together to develop the Syrian economy. We believe we can narrow our differences with Turkey, which enjoys a good democracy,” he said.