The relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey have been generally peaceful since establishment of the modern states, but sometimes have also been strained. Iran and Turkey are major trade partners. Turkey has an embassy in Tehran, and consulates in Tabriz and Urmia. Iran has its embassy in Ankara, and consulates in Istanbul, Erzurum, and Trabzon.
On 22 April 1926 the First "Treaty of Friendship" between Iran and Turkey was signed in Tehran. The basic principles included friendship, neutrality and nonaggression towards each other. The agreement also included possible joint actions to groups in the territories of both countries which would try to disturb peace and security or who would try to change the government of one of the countries. This policy was indirectly aimed at the internal problems both countries had with their Kurdish minorities.
On 23 January 1932 the first definitive frontier treaty between Turkey and Iran was signed in Tehran. It should be mentioned that the border between Turkey and Iran is one of the oldest in the world and has stayed more or less the same since the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and the Treaty of Zuhab. In other words, this 1932 treaty was basically the rubber-stamping of the centuries old status quo. On the same day the countries signed a new Treaty of Friendship, as well as a Treaty of Conciliation, Judicial Settlement and Arbitration.
Between 16 June and 2 July 1934, Reza Shah Pahlavi visited Turkey, together with a mission of high-ranking officials, among which General Hassan Arfa, at the invitation of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Several regions in Turkey were visited and attempts at close friendship and cooperation between the two leaders were made. Reza Shah Pahlavi was reportedly impressed by the republic's modernization reforms and he saw this as an example for his own country.
On 8 July 1937 a Treaty of Non-aggression was signed between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. This treaty would become known as the Treaty of Saadabad. The purpose of this agreement was to ensure security and peace in the Middle East.
In July 1964 the RCD (Regional Cooperation for Development), aimed at joint economic projects between Iran, Turkey and Pakistan was established.
A period of coldness passed after the 1979 Iranian Revolution which caused major changes in Iran and the Middle Eastern status quo. Today Iran and Turkey closely cooperate in a wide variety of fields that range from fighting terrorism, drug trafficking, and promoting stability in Iraq and Central Asia.
Iranian Nuclear Program
In May 2010, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made an unscheduled trip to Tehran in coordination with Brazilian President Lula da Silva to make an agreement to outsource Iranian uranium enrichment to his country to avoid further sanctions on Iran. In supporting Iran after the agreement Erdogan turned the question back on the international community. "In fact, there is no nuclear weapon in Iran now, but Israel, which is also located in our region, possesses nuclear arms. Turkey is the same distance from both of them. What has the international community said against Israel so far? Is this the superiority of law or the law of superiors?" This comes after growing pressure from the U.S.A. and the U.K. to support sanctions against Iran.
The decision of Turkey to host a radar system to track missiles launched from Iran has been seen by the Iranians as a serious break in relations.
NATO missile shield crisis
Turkey, the largest NATO member in the region, hosted the establishment of a NATO missile shield in September 2011. The establishment of NATO defense shield has caused a crisis between Turkey and Iran. Iran claimed that the NATO missile shield is a US ploy to protect Israel from any counter-attack should Israel target Iran's nuclear facilities. In addition, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that Turkey should rethink its policies over Syria, the NATO defense shield, and promotion of secularism over the Arab world following the Arab Spring.
Iranian Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi also expressed his opinion over the situation. "The behaviour of Turkish statesmen towards Syria and Iran is wrong and, I believe, they are acting in line with the goals of America," he told to MNA. "If Turkey does not distance itself from this unconventional political behaviour it will have both the Turkish people turning away from it domestically and the neighbouring countries of Syria, Iraq and Iran reassessing their political ties." he also added.
Turkey stated that the NATO system neither cause threat to a nation nor target any particular nation. Turkish Minister of National Defense, İsmet Yılmaz, insisted that NATO missile defense system's aim is to secure Europe, adding that it's also for security of Turkey.
On October 23, 2011, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran over United States' presence in Turkey. “Iran would be badly miscalculating if they did not look at the entire region and all of our presence in many countries, both in bases and in training with NATO allies, like Turkey,” Clinton said.
In November 2011, the head of the Iranian Guard's aerospace division threatened to strike Turkey if other countries attacked Iran.
Since the Arab Spring
Iran's relations with Turkey have further soured over Turkey's growing leadership position in the region since the dawn of the Arab Spring. Iran firmly backs the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey supports the Syrian opposition.
Iran and Turkey also have very close trade and economic relations. Both countries are part of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Turkey receives many Iranian tourists each year and economically benefits from Iranian tourism.
Bilateral trade between the nations is increasing. In 2005, the trade increased to $4 billion from $1 billion in 2000. Iran’s gas export to Turkey is likely to be increased. At present, the rate is at 50mm cm/d. Turkey imports about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas from Iran, about 30 percent of its needs. Turkey plans to invest $12 billion in developing phases 22, 23 and 24 of South Pars gas field, a senior Iranian oil official told Shana.ir. Two-way trade is now in the range of $10 billion (2010), and both governments have announced that the figure should reach the $20 billion mark in the not too distant future. 50 percent of the gas from three phases of Iran’s South Pars gas field will be re-exported to Europe. Turkey has won the tender for privatization of Razi Petrochemical Complex valued at $650 million (2008). On tourism, every year one million Iranians visit Turkey.
Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi announced in October 2012 that the speed of trade exchanges between Iran and Turkey has accelerated and was close of reaching the goal of 30 billion dollars per year. He added that the growing trade relations between Tehran and Ankara indicate the two countries’ willingness to strengthen mutual ties.
Collaboration against terrorism
Turkey and Iran vowed to collaborate in their fight against terrorists in Iraq, as thousands of Turkish troops pressed ahead with an air and ground offensive against the militants in northern Iraq. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that the deaths of Turkish soldiers might have been avoided if the United States had informed Turkey that the terrorists were infiltrating into Turkey with heavy weaponry. The U.S. shares intelligence from surveillance drones with Turkey about movement of the PKK along the border.
The Turkish government shut down a probe that revealed connections between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the highest levels of the Turkish government.
Israeli role in disputes
The Turkish Republic's ties with Israel have caused various minor economic and bilateral disputes between the nations. However, Turkey's somewhat neutral stance in the disputes between Israel and Iran has caused such disputes to die down. The growing trade relations between Tehran and Ankara as analysts support indicate the two countries’ willingness to strengthen mutual ties.
In a 2012 Pew Global Attitudes American organization based in Washington, D.C. Survey, 26% of Turks viewed Iran favorably, compared to 55% which viewed it unfavorably. 54% of Turks oppose Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, 46% consider a nuclear-armed Iran somewhat a "threat". Turks are less concerned about Iran being a threat, 37% of Turks believe that Iran is not a threat at all, which is the most between survived countries. Only 34% of Turkey population approve of "tougher sanctions" on Iran in compare with 52% of Turks disapproving sanction. While 26% support use of military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. 35% of Turks view President Ahmadinejad favorably, with 48% viewing him unfavorably. According to a 2013 BBC World Service poll, 17% of Turks view Iran's influence positively whereas 57% expressing a negative view.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Iran - Turkey relations.|
- "Will Turkey be complicit in another war against another neighbour?". CASMII. 24 February 2008.
- Iran-Turkey relations-Part I Part II Part III (Free PressTV documentary)