The dialogue between Turkey and Iran has a determinant role for the solution of a large number of regional problems, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday, speaking during a High-Level Cooperation Council videoconference meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.
“Turkey and Iran are two allies and two friendly countries,” Rouhani said during the meeting’s opening speech, “Our relations have always been established on strong grounds; we have historical relations. Therefore, even though we go through painful periods, our relations are not harmed. The relations of both countries stand on good neighborly relations, common cultural values, mutual respect and of course, mutual interests.”
Saying that Turkish-Iranian relations are significant for the region’s stability, Rouhani added: “The peoples of both countries have always supported peace and friendship. Both of our countries in the past and particularly in the past seven years have exerted efforts to further improve and reinforce our bilateral relations.”
“Iran and Turkey are located in the most sensitive area of the region,” he said, underlining that hostilities exist against both countries in the region.
Regretting that this year’s conference had to be held via videolink, Erdoğan stressed that showing the will to hold the meeting anyway despite the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, was a strong message in itself.
“With the easing of the pandemic conditions, I believe our relations will once again reach previous levels. With the medical aid and equipment we provided to Iran during the initial times of the pandemic, we showed that we are by the side of the Iranian people,” the Turkish president said, highlighting that both countries would hopefully leave this pandemic behind stronger than before.
“I believe that the decisions we will take today will gain momentum for the issues of our current bilateral relations. Our ministers have a great duty in implementing these decisions,” Erdoğan added, saying that he wished to meet with the Iranian president in person as soon as the pandemic is over.
This is the sixth High-Level Cooperation Council meeting. The previous council meeting was held in 2018 in the capital Ankara. The Turkish-Iranian High Level Cooperation Council, which was established in 2014, has provided a structured basis to Turkish-Iranian relations.
Both parties in a declaration following the conference reiterated their determination to enhance good neighborly relations. They also emphasized closer consultation and cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 to ensure better preparedness in providing citizens with necessary medical services, medicines and equipment for prevention and activities related to the pandemic.
Turkey and Iran also renewed their commitment to intensify joint efforts to reverse the decrease in their bilateral trade volume by fully utilizing available mechanisms, such as the Joint Economic Commission, Joint Road Transport Committee, as well as devising new avenues of economic cooperation.
On the other side, stating that PKK and its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) and all terrorist organizations in the region pose a common threat to the security of both Turkey and Iran, both sides emphasized the need to fully utilize the existing cooperation mechanisms against the activities of these terrorist organizations along the common borders. They also agreed to take coordinated steps for result-oriented cooperation, including joint operations, in countering terrorism and organized crime.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.
Furthermore, the two countries also touched upon the Syrian civil war, where close cooperation is being observed. Turkey and Iran emphasized their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria in line with all agreements in the framework of the Astana format. They also reaffirmed their conviction that the Syrian conflict could be resolved through political process in line with the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254.
Turkey, Iran and Russia initiated the Astana process to bring the warring sides in Syria together to find a permanent solution to the nine-year-long war. The main agenda items have been the constitutional system, the political transition, security and resettlement. The first meeting of the Astana process was held in Turkey in January 2017 to facilitate United Nations-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.
The issues of Iraq, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as Afghanistan were also discussed during the conference. Both countries expressed their unwavering support for a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reiterated the need for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state having Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.
Israel seized control of east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in highly controversial moves that are still not recognized by the international community.