Ahead of an upcoming meeting in Tehran, Iran's ambassador to Ankara, Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard, stressed that efforts by Turkey and Iran to de-escalate the ongoing conflict in Syria were significant.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will travel to Tehran on Sept. 7 to attend the third summit of the Astana talks along with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. One of the main topics of the meeting is expected to be the current conflict in Idlib, the Iranian envoy said in an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah.
Pointing out the importance of Iran and Turkey in the region, Fard said that both countries play a key role in solving regional matters. The ambassador stressed that the top agenda item of the Tehran meeting will be the situation in Idlib.
Idlib, located in northwestern Syria on the Turkish border, has been under the control of opposition groups since March 2015 and has been facing intense air raids by the Bashar Assad regime and its backers ever since.
The Assad regime recently signaled that the Idlib province, the last major bastion of Syria's political and military opposition, will be a main target; this has raised concerns regarding the safety of civilians and the moderate opposition.
Sharing his evaluations on the Astana process which was founded with the initiatives of Russia, Turkey, and Iran to establish peace in Syria, he stated that since incidents in the region affect the peace and stability in regional countries notably Iran and Turkey, both countries are irreplaceable parties of the Astana talks.
"We as the two countries always emphasize peace, stability and preservation territorial integrity of regional countries and engage in cooperation accordingly," Fard said.
Fard also indicated that the cooperation between Iran, Turkey, and Russia are playing an important role in the de-escalation of the conflict in Syria and considerable steps have been taken to resolve the crisis through political process. Emphasizing that there are still problems and different views, he indicated that the Syria talks were shaped thanks to the cooperation of the three countries despite these problems.
Touching upon the extensive bilateral relations between Iran and Turkey, he said there is a positive and prospective process but the relations have not reached the level desired by the countries' authorities and the public. Underlining that Turkey-Iran relations are not only based on common interests and neighboring relations but also on extensive history, culture, and identity. He also advised that efforts should be made to increase the quality and level of the relations to meet expectations.
He added that current trade volume is still well below the expectations of the leaders despite the aims of high-ranking officials in Iran and Turkey to increase the trade volume of the two countries to $30 billion. In order to meet these expectations, Fard stressed that recent preferential trade agreements and the strengthening and facilitating relations of banking play an important role.
Also commenting on the recent U.S. embargoes against Iran, he said, "Efforts of the U.S. to impose its domestic decisions to other countries is a clear example of how it violates the sovereignty and independence of other countries and how it uses international financial and banking system as a political tool. Withdrawal of the U.S. from the nuclear deal pushes Iran into a difficult situation where the U.S. [is] faced with loss of reputation and legitimacy."
He defined the U.S.' stance against Iran as "oppression, bullying and extraordinary illegal behaviors" and regarded other countries moves as hopeful. He also advised other countries to stand up in the face of oppressive moves by saying that while there is a cost for resistance, yet the cost of surrendering surpasses the cost of resistance enormously.
Stressing Turkey's declaration that it will not comply with the recent U.S. embargoes against Iran, he said that despite some disagreements in some issues, Turkey and Iran have stood by each other several times.
Fard also pointed to recent developments in global economic relations, such as the U.S. sanctions, which have pushed newly developed countries to search for a new mechanism in commercial relations and banking operations.
"Today, Iran, Turkey and other countries that are unhappy with the extraordinary economic behaviors of the U.S., [and] support an economic opening. Both countries took valuable steps in this line. For instance, use of national currency decreases the fragility of the countries that face oppression and the scope of the damage while increasing the independence of these countries," he said.
"Accordingly, presidents of the two countries highlighted the importance of concluding commercial treaties which provide for the usage of Turkish lira and [Iranian] riyal during high cooperation council meetings. The two countries are committed to this matter and I am very hopeful for the future," the envoy concluded.