Zuhab Agreement

8The emergence of Western nation-states in Turkey and Iran in the 1920s under the leadership of Mr. Kemal Ataturk and Reza Shah Pahlavi facilitated the continuation of cooperation between the two countries. The rise of secular and nationalist regimes in both countries has reduced the dominance of sectarian differences between the two countries. However, the rise of nationalism in both countries has raised a new challenge in bilateral relations: the question of ethnicities or nationalities. In particular, in parallel with the rise of panurkism at the turn of the century, although it was reduced by Kemalist Turkey, some Turkish nationalists paid particular attention to the cause of the “Turks of Iran”, which exacerbated Iran`s security concerns. On the other hand, the Kurdish uprisings over the Turkey-Iran border, which began in the 1920s, and the Iranian government`s leniency towards Kurdish militants have worried Turkish leaders about Iran.8 Yet, under the leadership of Ataturk and Reza Shah, both countries have overcome the challenges and developed a good sense of neighbourly membership. After consolidating their political regimes, Ankara and Tehran demarcated their borders and signed a friendship agreement. Reza Shah`s visit to Turkey in 1934 showed the growing friendly relationship between the two countries. First, the two leaders denounced the imperialist and sectarian pretensions of their predecessors. Instead, they were mainly busy building modern nations and states in their respective territories. Moreover, British influence in the Middle East and Soviet control of the Caucasus prevented Turkey and Iran from reviving expansionist claims and left them as “status quo powers” committed to respecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

A number of tribal revolts on the borders of the two countries led them to sign a non-aggression treaty (Sadabad) alongside Afghanistan and Iraq. Accordingly, the parties agreed to prevent “the formation and activity of gangs, associations or armed organizations in their respective territories in order to undermine established institutions, disrupt the order or security of one party, whether at the border or elsewhere, of the territory of another party, or to alter the constitutional system of that other contracting party.” 99Friending relations between the two countries were promoted after the Second World War. As an example of good neighbourly relations, an Iran-Turkey friendship society was established in Istanbul at the end of 1952. Turkish President Celal Bayar visited Tehran in September 1955, which was made possible by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi`s visit to Ankara in May 1956. At the time, the perceived Soviet threat and fear of the spread of communism led Turkey and Iran to forge security relations with the United States. In 1955, the two main U.S. allies in the Middle East led Turkey and Iran to the implementation of the Baghdad Pact, which later became CENTO. In addition, the two countries, together with Pakistan, founded the Organization for Regional Development Cooperation (RCD) in 1964. In addition to political and security relations, economic and cultural relations between the two countries have improved considerably.

The two countries abolished the visa requirement for travel, signed a trade agreement and looked at the link between their railways and highways under the RCD. Ankara and Tehran signed a cultural cooperation agreement in 1959 that came into force in 1966.

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