Turkey Again Hails Iran’s Presidential Elections

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, in Ankara on Wednesday.

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Turkey has again praised last year’s disputed Iranian presidential election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power amid ongoing unrest. Ankara was among the first countries to Ahmadinejad after he claimed victory in the June 2009 polls.

“We consider the elections democratic and, in terms of the people’s turnout, a positive development,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, who was in Ankara Wednesday to co-chair the Turkish-Iranian Joint Economic Committee meeting.

“The strong participation [in elections] is important but the latest developments upset us,” said Davutoglu.

Street protests that followed the presidential poll in June plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah. Iran hanged Thursday two men convicted of being moharebs, or those that war against God, over the unrest.

Another conservative cleric, meanwhile, has demanded more opposition protesters be executed.

Davutoglu stressed that Turkey placed a priority on the peace and stability of Iranians, saying, “We believe Iran will overcome such problems as soon as possible and continue to have peace, stability and welfare.”

Turkey was one of the first countries to congratulate Ahmadinejad after elections although many European leaders declined to do so. Iran’s moderate opposition says the June election was rigged in favor of Ahmadinejad. The Iranian government, however, denies any fraud.

“Some 85 percent of Iranians participated in the elections while this figure stands around 25 percent in European countries. They were free elections that left no room for fraud,” said Mottaki.

“Only one person wins the elections,” said the Iranian minister, accusing the opposition of overstepping the boundaries of objection. “They attempted to spark unrest, burn cars, buses and mosques and harm the things that are holy for us.”

Mottaki recalled a recent interview he had with a Western broadcasting station where he said the current unrest in Iran was a “plot by Westerners.”

“I told them they failed. The situation has returned to normal in Iran. Those who are accused in Iran answer before the court. They have the right to appeal. We say ‘yes’ to appeals but ‘no’ to chaos.”

Another issue on their agenda was Iran’s disputed nuclear program. Davutoğlu repeated Ankara’s well-known position that the dispute should be resolved through dialogue by using diplomatic means instead of through tension and threats.

“There is still room for diplomacy. We’ll be involved in every effort regarding Iran that expands the sphere of diplomacy,” said Davutoglu.

Mottaki said Iran considered an exchange of low-enriched uranium with uranium enriched by 20 percent as a “formula that could build confidence.”

“This formula is on the table at present,” he said, adding that Tehran’s research reactor would need fuel within a year.

The United States and other nations suspect that Iran’s nuclear program is geared toward acquiring atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying the program is to generate energy. Mottaki, meanwhile, said in December that Turkey could also be a venue for Tehran to exchange nuclear material with the West.

“Iran and Turkey have a common perspective toward security problems. A threat posed to Turkey is a threat posed to Iran and [vice versa],” he said.

The two ministers attended a dinner together late Wednesday.

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