Turkey – Iran Round Table Meeting was Held

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Turkey – Iran Round Table Meeting was held in the Turkish Asian Center For Strategic Studies (TASAM) on the 12th of November 2008. The Chairman of TASAM Süleyman Şensoy, Retired Ambassador and TASAM Vice President Murat Bilhan,...

Turkey – Iran Round Table Meeting was held in the Turkish Asian Center For Strategic Studies (TASAM) on the 12th of November 2008. The Chairman of TASAM Süleyman Şensoy, Retired Ambassador and TASAM Vice President Murat Bilhan, Retired Ambassador Aydemir Erman, Prof. Dr. Vural Altın, the Director of Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies Dr. Sayyed Rasoul Mousavi, II. Chief of the West Asia Department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Celaleddin Nemini and Senior Authority in the Foreign Ministry of Iran Retired Ambassador Jalal Kalantari attended the meeting, in which the subjects of energy, nuclear energy, new developments in the international system, regional problems, the issues of Caucasus and the evolutions in the World were discussed.

The media showed great interest in the round table meeting, which is arranged between think tank organizations of these two countries that have huge effects and power and they asked questions to the speakers in various subjects. The subjects that were discussed in the meeting in order to develop the relations between these two countries and to evaluate the common problems can be summarized as below:

The Chairman of TASAM Süleyman Şensoy, who made the opening speech of the meeting, stated that with the break down of the Soviet Union, bipolar system ended and a multi-polar world system took its place. According to Şensoy, Turkey and Iran have a significant role in the new world system. “There are cultural chains that connect Turkey and Iran. These two countries have serious competition areas in themselves. But they are also actors that could create stability and trust in the region. Nowadays the relations in between have gained acceleration. And cooperation for the struggle against the PKK terrorist organization is necessity on this matter. Developments taking place in the Middle East are a common problem that closely concerns the two countries.“

The Director of Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies Dr. Sayyed Rasoul Mousavi has also estimated the recent developments in the world. Emphasizing the importance of Barack Obama’s being elected for the Presidency of the USA, Mousavi said “Signals of change have been promised after the new election. We do not know whether it is true, or not. Obama told different things than before. He drew attention to the fact that there will be significant changes in the USA’s Foreign Policy. If this optimism can really be put into practice, our region will also benefit from that. If the USA troops are extracted from Iraq, it will support the stability of the region to be improved.“ Mousavi indicated that Turkey and Iran have a common background and improving of the cooperation between these two countries can bring about important conclusions in the region.


Ambassador Jelal Kalantari made a presentation about the nuclear programme of Iran in the meeting and stated that Iran has been interviewing with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He said; “Iran’s nuclear programme is totally aimed at peaceful objects. There is no finding on any bomb or harmful material manufacturing. But some people insist on claiming that Iran will use it’s nuclear technology for bad purposes. We told that we could cooperate with IAEA, but only in some certain conditions. We demanded this cooperation to be based on a mutual agreement. We told that each questions must be answered, but we also told that the things that the USA says are not so realistic.“ Claiming that in recent years some people from the USA insistently blame Iran, Kalantari continued his speech: “They are trying to twist the nuclear programme of Iran. Iran has showed every kind of efforts by its own. It does not matter what the USA or some other people say. IAEA has also declared in it’s reports that there is no finding on any nuclear weapons in Iran. We, as Iran, are not blind. USA is trying to twist the nuclear programme of Iran. We proved that the claims of USA are not true at all. While we have done everything as supposed to, I can say that IAEA sometimes do not keep up with the agreement. Iran is against the idea of nuclear weapons as all the other countries.“

II. Chief of the West Asia Department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Jelaleddin Nemini focused on the historical connection of the two countries and stated that the relations must be improved. In his speech, he emphasized that the border between Turkey and Iran is one of the oldest borders in the history and that the relation between these countries have been continuing for centuries. He also stated that the up-and-down relations between Turkey and Iran have found a stable base in the recent years and that these two countries have been cooperating in numbers of areas from energy to the common conflict against terrorism.

Retired Ambassador Murat Bilhan evaluated the developments in the world and said; “Obama’s declarations have caused signs of a softening environment. His words indicated that the Guantanamo base would be closed and negotiations with Iran might be started. It is obvious that Obama will differ from the radical opinions of Bush.“

Prof. Dr. Vural Altın emphasized the fact that USA supported Iran’s nuclear programme in the period of President Ford and said “There are two countries blaming Iran for its nuclear programme. One of them is the USA that used nuclear weapın before, and the other is Israel that has never made a declaration on its nuclear technology.“ He also stated that according to international agreements, it is not illegal for any country to have a nuclear technology by it’s own technological opportunities, however transferring this technology to other countries and providing armament by this way is illegal. “For instance, Sweden has a capacity to implement this technology if it wants to. But the problem here is to transfer the technology. As it is represented in the IAEA reports, there are no findings of a nuclear weapon in Iraq. But it is obvious that there is a feeling of mistrust between the two sides. And we cannot ignore it.“

Retired Ambassador Aydemir Erman shared particularly his Afghanistan experiences with the audience and informed about the developments over there. Ambassador Erman said “Most of the important figures of Afghanistan lived in Iran and took their education in the universities of Iran. The name of ‘Hikmetyar’ is known by everyone in that region and the name is coming to the fore again. At the same time, there is a controversy against the regime of Taliban. But we can see that Taliban is tend to regain its power. The issue of Afghanistan concerns both Turkey and Iran geographically and politically.“

The meeting continued with Questions and Answers after the speeches. The subjects of the two countries’ common struggle against terror, energy projects that are planned to be implemented and the developments in the Caucasus were discussed throughout the meeting. The meeting ended with the committee’s presenting gifts to each other and with the votes of thanks.

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