Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Erdogan says new Iranian president is a Turk, hoping for stronger Turkey-Iran ties

Monday, 07/08/2024

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hopes for a positive development in Turkey-Iran relations under the new president-elect, leveraging Masoud Pezeshkian's ethnic background as a potential diplomatic bridge.

"Masoud Pezeshkian is actually a Turk," Erdogan stated. "He speaks Turkish in Tabriz, can speak Kurdish in Kurdish regions, and is also fully proficient in Persian."

Pezeshkian's ethnic background is in fact rooted in the Azeri community, a significant ethnic group in Iran, particularly in Azarbaijan province, where Turkish is widely spoken. He was born in the Kurdish city of Mahabad.

While Erdogan expressed hopes for a new era of “rapid development” in Ankara-Tehran relations, the reality on the ground in Iran remains fraught with challenges. The Turkish president's overtures, though diplomatically significant, may also be seen as an attempt to exploit Iran's internal vulnerabilities for regional advantage.

Trade between Turkey and Iran peaked in 2012 at nearly $22 billion but has since declined significantly. According to Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat, trade stood at $7.4 billion in 2023, down from around $10 billion the previous year.

Iran's economy has been severely crippled by sanctions imposed due to its nuclear program, although Tehran denies Western allegations that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons

Pezeshkian narrowly won a runoff race against ultraconservative Saeed Jalili on Friday, in an election marred by historically low turnout. In the first round, less than 40 percent of eligible voters participated, highlighting the growing disillusionment with Iran's clerical rule.

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