Turkey, Venezuela vow to continue trade despite US pressure

Turkey, Venezuela vow to continue trade despite US pressure

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey, Venezuela vow to continue trade despite US pressure

The Turkish and Venezuelan foreign ministers have vowed to increase bilateral trade despite U.S. pressure.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on April 1 said Turkey continues supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and intends to deepen cooperation with Venezuela “in all fields.”

The minister’s remarks came at a joint press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza. The Turkish minister said “it is out of question for us to see the hardships of the Venezuelan people and not to trade with that country.” He stressed that it is not humane to try to get a result by punishing all the people in the country.

The two foreign ministers criticized U.S. sanctions on Venezuela that have also targeted the country’s gold trade.

He recalled that the rules of trade are determined by the World Trade Organization. Accordingly, independent countries carry out trade between themselves in line with those rules. The entire world is at unease over the U.S.’s unilateral decisions to impose sanctions on countries, Çavuşoğlu said.

“Even America’s attempt to prevent trade with dollars is against international law. It’s against trade rules,” he added.

The minister noted that that U.S. is now trying to block trade over gold. “It should not be in a way that ‘I am a big country and I can determine entire rules.’” Turkey believes in international law and multilateralism, the minister added.

Responding to a question regarding bilateral gold trade between Turkey and Venezuela, Arreaza stressed a flexible structure of relations between the two countries and said the U.S. would not be able to block this trade. “We have a relationship structure that changes according to any difficulties and continues to go forward,” he stated.

“We have to say that Venezuela and Turkey will work in order to find alternative ways to improve trade relations and to move a step further in cooperation,” he said. Arreaza welcomed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s support given to Maduro.

Turkey has become one of Maduro’s biggest backers, along with Russia, China, and Cuba.

The United States and dozens of nations in Latin America and Europe are supporting Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. American government officials have previously warned that some of the gold may be heading via Turkey to Iran, which would violate U.S. sanctions.

Maduro’s government began selling gold about a year ago after falling oil production, an economic collapse and mounting U.S. sanctions hit public income in the OPEC member nation and made it hard for it to access credit. A Turkish firm bought 23.9 tons of gold last year, opposition legislator in Venezuela Carlos Paparoni told a news conference on Feb. 6.

Çavuşoğlu to meet Pompeo and Bolton

Çavuşoğlu also said he will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Washington on April 4.

The minister said he will first attend a meeting on April 2 in New York at the U.N. General Assembly to gather on the issue of the New Zealand mosque attack.

The minister’s meeting with the U.S. officials will come amid the U.S.’s mounting pressure on Ankara to annul its purchase of Russian S-400 air systems.