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EghtesadOnline: Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has defended a former Turkish minister who had recently been charged with conspiring to violate US sanctions against Iran, stressing that trade relations between Turkey and Iran were legal in international and Turkish laws.

At a news conference in Ankara on Monday, Bozdag defended former economy minister, Zafer Caglayan, against the charges, saying that trade relations between Turkey and Iran were legal according to both international and Turkish laws, Hurriyet daily news reported.     

“There is no commercial transaction [between Iran and Turkey] that is against national and international laws. It is definitely not possible to make [such a transaction],” said Bozdag, who is also the Turkish government’s spokesman.      

An indictment was announced September 6 in New York charging Caglayan and three other Turkish nationals with violating US sanctions imposed on Iran, Financial Tribune reported.      

The charges stem from a probe into Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman arrested in the US last year for alleged sanctions evasion.      

“If you ask what is trying to be done in the US regarding Reza Zarrab and now the issue that our honorable minister’s name is involved, the essence of the matter is this: The American judicial system is being used to repeat what the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization tried to do during the coup attempt of Dec. 17-25 [2013] and failed,” Bozdag said.

He was referring to a previous attempt where the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen allegedly used members in the Turkish judicial system to attempt to topple the government through an alleged corruption scandal.      

Bozdag said Caglayan protected Turkey’s interests during the period and did his duty according to national and international laws.      

“There is a very different thing here … It is part of a very dirty game. There is no evidence; there are fabrications,” he said.      

Bozdag also said some circles are trying hard to harm Turkish-US relations and they should not be tolerated anymore.      

Zarrab was arrested on March 21 last year in the US on fraud and Iran sanctions-related charges.  

He previously faced an investigation in Turkey in 2013 on charges of alleged illegal gold sales to Iran via Turkey, which resulted in his detention. The case was dismissed in 2014.

Iran exported about $4.5 billion worth of goods to Turkey during the seven months ending July 2017, registering an 80% rise compared with the corresponding period of last year, Tasnim News Agency reported last week, citing the Turkish Statistical Institute announced.

Imports from the neighboring country over the same period amounted to $1.8 billion, indicating a 37% fall year-on-year.  Iran-Turkey trade stood at $6.3 billion over the seven-month period, showing a 16% rise compared with last year’s similar period.

 

Bekir Bozdag Iran sanctions Iran Turkey