ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s TOBB hosted representatives of business associations from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia in Istanbul yesterday. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
The sanctions Western countries have imposed on Iran
and Syria are not the right approach for boosting regional cooperation, because they polarize the people of these countries, according to business representatives from Iran
who participated in the International Chamber of Commerce G-20 meeting in Istanbul yesterday.
“We believe that sanctions are not the right tools, they only work to polarize the people,” said Mehdi M. Behkish, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Iran
branch, speaking to the Daily News on the sidelines of the ICC G-20 Advisory Group Regional Consultation Meeting in Istanbul.
Nearly 20 representatives of business associations from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia met to discuss issues including food security, green growth, employment, the elimination of corruption, trade, and investment, to draft business recommendations for the Group of 20 meeting in Mexico in June. The Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) organized the event.
According to Bekhish, increasing the pressure on Syria and Iran
through sanctions might also hurt public support for opponents of the ruling regimes in those countries.
“People who are against those governments might like the sanctions targeting the governments, but sanctioning the government most of the time means sanctioning the people in the street,” Behkish said. By launching sanctions against its southern neighbor Syria, “Turkey is following in the footsteps of bigger countries,” he said.
“If we are talking about regional cooperation, we should first start by removing these barriers,” said Abbas Akhoundi, chairman of Iranian Engineering Development Co. (IREDCO). “We need to liberate trade from political struggles, we should not attempt to solve problems by penalizing free trade,” Akhoundi told the Daily News.
“Rising protectionism is a serious danger for the world economy,” said Jean-Guy Carrier, secretary general of ICC, responding to a Daily News question. “Some countries, including some among the G-20, have been closing in more and more during the economic crisis,” said Cartier, noting that many countries have benefited from free trade in the last 60 years. “We will make sure that these countries pledge to push back protectionist measures.”
“There will be no individual solutions for global problems,” said Rifat Hisarcıkloğlu, head of TOBB, noting that countries should stay away from rising protectionism.
“Turkey has created nearly 3.5 million jobs for jobless people in last two years,” he said.