Iran Daily: Rouhani Appeals to Turkey to Reopen Vital Banking Links

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Astana, Kazakhstan, September 9, 2017

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has appealed to Turkey to reopen banking links needed for the Islamic Republic’s economic recovery.

On the eve of a summit in Kazakhstan, Rouhani told Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:

We must make a great development in Iran-Turkey relations, especially in economic fields, based on capabilities of the two countries….

Facilitating banking cooperation is an important base for developing ties between the two countries and reaching $30 billion annual trade goal.

The Rouhani Government has sought the restoration of banking and financial transactions after the July 2015 nuclear agreement with the 5+1 Powers, but the effort has been hindered by ongoing US sanctions as well as a cumbersome Iranian banking sector. While the Government is pursuing reform to deal with internal barriers, the American restrictions are being reinforced.

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, published on Friday, Ali Akbar Salehi — head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and Tehran’s technical negotiator on the 2015 deal — repeated the Government’s concern, “The U.S. is trying to poison the business environment. It discourages big banks and companies from working with Iran. It is fearmongering,” although he insisted, “But in reality they cannot accomplish much.”

According to Rouhani’s website, Erdoğan responded, “With the lift of sanctions against Iran, the groundwork is ready to promote ties. Banks of the two countries, in particular the central banks must remove the obstacles on the way of development of relations and banking cooperation”.

Rouhani also generally referred to Iranian-Turkish dialogue on regional issues such as the Syrian civil war, over which both countries have been involved in talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana since January: “There is a long way to root out terrorism and I hope that with regard to common views of the two countries in fighting extremism and violence, Iran and Turkey can have good cooperation in this field.”

And the President implicitly referred to the opposition of both Tehran and Ankara to an Iraqi Kurdish referendum for independence on Spetember 25:

In dealing with regional issues, both countries are determined to maintain stability in geographical borders and territorial integrity of the neighbouring countries and those in the region. Any change in geography and borders starts major tensions and this will harm all peoples of the region.

According to Rouhani’s outlet, Erdoğan said Turkey — a long-time supporter of the Syrian opposition in the 79-month conflict — will join Iran, a key ally of the Assad regime, in political efforts: “Syria is the cradle of civilisation in the region and we mustn’t allow foreign powers intervene in Syria to serve their own interests.”

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


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