Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan leveled harsh words at the EU on Friday over Turkey’s gold trade with Iran, telling reporters in İstanbul on Friday that the sanctions do not concern Turkey Today`s Zaman reproted.
“The EU has decided on sanctions. I’m selling. Another’s sanctions don’t concern me,” he told reporters. The words come as the EU steps up pressure on Turkey’s “gas for gold” trade with sanctions-rocked Iran to which Turkey exported over $10 billion in gold over the past year. The deal has helped Tehran circumvent international sanctions and maintained Ankara’s critical natural gas and oil shipments from its second-largest energy supplier.
Energy-import dependent Turkey imports 8 to 12 billion cubic meters of gas annually — around 20 percent of its total natural gas — from Iran, a quantity that analysts say Ankara could not secure from other exporters in the region.
The “gas for gold” trade has increasingly irked the EU and US, which in November banned selling precious metals to the country in hopes of further crippling the defiant Islamic Republic’s economy. In comments carried by the Anatolia news agency, Çağlayan bluntly told reporters at a press conference on Friday that pressure on Turkey to halt the trade would fall on deaf ears, telling the EU to “go and look after its own firms,” rather than pressure Ankara over the gold trade. Earlier this year, the US agreed to exempt Turkey’s oil trade with Tehran after Ankara pledged to reduce its imports from Iran, though pressure has since grown to end the trade.
Minister: Turkish auto brand to move ahead
Caglayan also spoke on Friday about the government’s determination to move ahead with its plans to create a national car brand, saying, “Where the private sector doesn’t deliver, we as the government will step in.”
A pledge from Turkey’s private sector to begin the production of a fully domestic car has so far been elusive, though interest has risen as Turkey’s clout in the auto world grows. In 2012, the automotive industry was Turkey’s best performing exporter. Koç Holding’s automotive maker TOFAŞ has been the most enthusiastic prospective maker, suggesting early in 2012 it might produce a Turkish-made sedan in partnership with Italian auto giant Fiat.
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