Ankara will not stop trading in oil with Iran by November 4, despite US sanctions.
Iran is the biggest supplier of crude oil, with a 50% share of imports in the first half of 2018, Anadolu agency reports.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the Turkish Minister of the Economy Nihat Zeybekci made clear that Washington’s decisions “are not binding” for Turkey, Al-Monitor reports.
Zebekci says Turkey will pursue its national interests.
Turkey has in the past circumvented Iran sanctions covertly, as revealed in the Reza Zarrab case who was charged and arrested in New York. The Turkish-Iranian gold trader was charged by the US Treasury of colluding with the state-owned Turkish Halkbank to launder Iranian energy revenues in the US.
Turkey’s defiant stance on sanctions against Iran comes amidst a currency crisis, with the lira losing over 20% of its value since January and inflation surpassing 12%. Iran and Ankara are brought together by necessity, as Tehran is squeezed out of international markets and Turkey is seeking uninterrupted oil supply during an economically turbulent period.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was among the first world leaders to congratulate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his victory on Sunday’s June 24 Presidential elections.
The crisis in Turkish-American relations is deepening. Ankara sees US cooperation with Kurdish YPG forces in Northern Syria as, in effect, sponsoring of terrorism; meanwhile, Washington has refused to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara believes to be responsible for the attempted coup in July 2016.