Turkey and Iran can undertake many joint steps to end clashes and ensure peace in the region, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on December 20th.
“There are so many steps that Turkey and Iran can take together to end the clashes in our region and ensure a peaceful environment,” Erdogan said at a news conference with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.
In Ankara along with senior Delegation headed by President @HassanRouhani for 5th Meeting of High Council for Iran-Turkey Strategic Cooperation. As neighbors who have enjoyed 400 yrs of peace, we are committed to working together to promote security & stability in our region. pic.twitter.com/ogcTmbyVml
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 20, 2018
Rouhani also said that the two countries are resolved to continue their cooperation with Russia in efforts to end the crisis in Syria. He reaffirmed their commitment to protecting the crisis-torn country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity.
They further praised the achievements of the peace process which has been underway between Syria’s warring parties in Astana, Kazakhstan, since January 2017, saying negotiations should continue in parallel with counter-terrorism battles to find an end to the crisis in Syria.
Erdogan himself said that Turkey did not allow and will not allow any entities seeking to harm the security of the country in the region.
“We need to increase our efforts to ensure permanent peace that will embrace Syria and whole Syrian people,” he added.
The two leaders also spoke of the US sanctions on Iran following the unilateral US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Erdogan said Turkey does not approve the US move since it leads to destabilization in region.
“The US withdrawal from the nuclear deal is not considered as the right one. This decision increases the risks of the situation in the region, we do not support it. We will continue to be close to Iran at a time when unjust decisions are being taken against it,” said the Turkish leader.
He added that Turkey and Iran plan to increase trade turnover from 11 to 30 billion in the coming years.
“We have good cooperation in the field of security, and we will not let it break,” said Erdogan.
On his part, Rouhani said that he US’s hostile policies against the Islamic Republic amount to “terrorism,” adding, however, that the “era of bullying is over, and that nations today make decisions based on their common interests.”
He said that the Turkish and Iranian officials spoke about a wide range of issues such as banking ties, commerce, tourism and culture, and explored ways of promoting mutual cooperation in all those fields.
Later on the same day, the two Presidents joined an economic forum attended by senior Iranian and Turkish businessmen.
“We must stop the U.S. sanction decision on Iran from impeding us to reach our targets,” Erdogan said. “No one should expect us to end economic and trade relations with Iran due to the sanctions,” claiming that Turkey is ready to do its part in reaching the desired bilateral ties with Iran.
Erdogan said that the sanctions on Iran could be used as an opportunity for both countries to increase their cooperation.
Rouhani said that Tehran faces a “cruel and unjust embargo.”
“This embargo can be both a threat and damage. It can both decrease our trade volume and limit our relations. However, we can make a good plan and transform these threats into opportunities,” he continued, also saying that the economic potentials between the countries are “more than ever.”
The Iranian leader invited his Turkish counterpart to invest in his country’s energy sector. “We are ready to allocate all necessary substances, ports, regions and facilities to the investors, if Turkish investors want to invest in any area in Iran to build refinery and to operate in the field of petrochemicals,” Rouhani said.
Both leaders said that trilateral meetings between Iran, Turkey and Russia would continue, with the next one being planned to happen in Moscow.
Thus, it appears that despite the US promise of a Patriot deal and the US “looking the other way” regarding the purchase of the Russian S-400 by Turkey, reinforced by the US withdrawal from Syria, Turkish-US relations are not improving. Or maybe they aren’t improving quickly. It is possible, however, that these US “concessions” are simply far from enough to restore ‘deep partner relations’ between the two countries.