Saturday, December 08, 2012

Turkey: 'US sanctions against Iranian foreign trade have obliged Turkey to do nothing.'

Source: IRNA

Ankara, Dec 7, IRNA – Turkey's Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan reacting to expanded US anti-Iran sanctions said here Friday 'US sanctions against Iranian foreign trade have obliged Turkey to do nothing.

Caglayan added in an interview with the TGRT news network, 'In regulating its relations with its neighbors, Turkey only heeds its national interests, not the unilaterally imposed US and EU sanctions.'

He said that under the current conditions of the international economic crisis certain circles are displeased with the positive economic growth of Turkey, adding, 'Unable to criticize our economic growth rate, they have resorted to the pretext of Turkey's exports to Iran.'

He said that there have been many years that Turkey has been indebted to Iran for the natural gas it has been importing from that country, adding, 'How is it that our sales of agricultural products to Iran is called exports, but selling gold is not? Obviously some circles are displeased with this process.'

The Turkish Economy Minister said that during the course of the first nine months of the year 2012 Turkey exported 10.7 billion US dollars of gold and imported 6.7 billion dollars of the same metal.

He said that 6.5 billion dollars of the 10,7 billion dollar gold exports of Turkey was to Iran, while the remaining 3.5 billion dollars was exported to the UAE, adding, 'Of course these exports were by the private sector, not the state sector.'

Caglayan said, 'Iran's annual imports is between 80 to 90 billion dollars, and this year for the first time Turkey's share of it was 10 billion dollars,' asking, 'Where from the remaining 70 to 80 billion dollars of exports to Iran is?'

The issue of increased imports of Iran from Turkey in the year 2012 and the method of paying the price for the Iranian exports of oil and gas has been notoriously highlighted by certain circles, which are obviously under the hegemony of the Zionists, and debated in Turkish media afterwards.

The highlighting of this issue was after a US senator who had said, 'We would disrupt Turkey's game playing and not permit that country to deliver gold to Iran for its imports of gas and oil form that country.'

It was after that comment that some Turkish media reported that the US intends to broaden its unilateral sanctions against Iran to urge Tehran to end its peaceful nuclear program, but Turkey's prime minister and energy minister both reacted to such news.

Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz focusing on the matter had said, 'My country would continue its natural gas imports from Iran and the method of paying its price is up to Turkey's economic officials.'

To a question on broadened US sanctions and inclusion of the price of Iran's gas to Turkey in them, Yildiz had said, 'The Turkish Oil and Gas Pipelines Company Butash pays the price of Iranian gas in US dollars and the Turkish Refineries Share Company Tuprash pays the price of the crude oil imported from Iran in Turkish lira.'

On the US demand for ending energy carries fro Iran he had noted, 'The Turkish officials have informed the Americans that ending imports of oil and gas would in fact be sanctions against Turkey, not Iran.'

The Turkish Energy Minister reiterated that the US officials had agreed to exempt Turkey's gas imports from Iran from the sanctions list.

Yildiz said, 'Under the current conditions Turkey pays the price of the imported gas from Iran is Turkish lira and Iran, too, buys gold with it and imports it thru Dubai.'

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Teyyip Erdogan too, has said, “We do not support unilaterally imposed sanctions against Iran and therefore, we would keep on importing oil and gas from Islamic Republic of Iran.”

According to IRNA Ankara Office, Prime Minister Erdogan made the comment in his joint press conference with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In response to a reporter’s question on US demand for imposing tougher sanctions against Iran and whether Turkey would follow suit regarding its imports of oil and gas from Iran, he said that Iranian gas imports were vitally important for Turkey, which depends heavily on imported energy and is struggling to diversify its suppliers, and that the government had told the relevant parties the trade would continue.

'We have always told officials that the issue is of strategic importance to us and we couldn't comply with the sanctions,' Erdogan told a joint news conference with President Putin.

Turkey will continue to buy natural gas from Iran despite the prospect of tighter US sanctions, Turkish Prime Minister Teyyip Erdogan said, indicating the measures are not likely to have much impact on the countries' gold-for-gas trade.

The US Senate approved tougher sanctions on global trade with Iran's energy and shipping sectors on Friday in US latest effort to further mount economic pressure on Tehran over the Islamic Republic of Iran’s absolutely peaceful nuclear program.

The new sanctions, the third round in a year, include measures aimed at stopping the flow of gold from Turkey to Iran in exchange for natural gas supplies.

'We are at the same point now. We told them we would carry out the necessary swap because it's a strategic product and we will continue in that direction in the future,' he said.

Turkey, which produces most of its electricity from natural gas, buys more than 90 percent of Iran's gas exports, while Turkmenistan imports the remaining around 10 percent, but those portions are subject to drastic change after the completion of the Iran-Pakistan Peace Pipeline.

Turkey is also an importer of Iranian oil, although it has somehow decreased its oil imports as a result of a deal with Washington to be exempted from resulting sanctions.

The US Senate will consider new sanctions to reduce global trade with Iran in the energy, shipping and metals sectors. The sanctions may restrict the export and import of precious metals to Iran.

As a result of the sanctions, Iran cannot get money for its gas exports to Turkey in foreign currency. Thus, the country has to pay for it in gold, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said earlier.

According to the Statistics Institute of Turkey, gold exports from Turkey to Iran in the second quarter of 2012 totalled $4.8 billion compared to $1 billion in the first quarter.

Turkey imports 8 million tons of oil and eight billion cubic meters of gas from Iran every year.