Turkey Uses Open Door Policy To Engage Iran
DAVID GREENE, Host:
Now, two countries with close ties but very different approaches when it comes to dealing with Iran. The U.S. has been in a constant state of confrontation with Iran for three decades. But consider American ally Turkey. They've had good relations with Iran. More than a million Iranians travel to Turkey each year, and Turkey welcomes the visitors. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more.
PETER KENYON: Here in Istanbul's Pakseri(ph) district, buses line up for the trip to Iran. Iranians don't need visas to come here. Traffic is especially heavy during Iranian holidays, tour operators here say. They also say the U.N. or the Americans can push for all the Iranian sanctions they want, but Turks and Iranians will continue to visit and do business with one another.
M: (Through translator) It makes us really happy when the Iranians come. They come and spend their money, and we can make a living.
KENYON: Mohadden Kaya mans one of the ramshackle travel offices that ring the bus terminal. His parents are from Iran, so he's long known what Turkish travel agent Jem Polotoglu learned 10 years ago when he began bringing Iranians in on package holiday tours. Polotoglu says some Europeans who at first were reluctant to socialize with the Iranians soon discovered how much fun they are.
M: They like music. They like dance. They drink. And they make all the excursion, actually. For us, these are good clients.
KENYON: But Hugh Pope with the International Crisis Group in Istanbul says despite the obvious historical problems dividing America and Iran, it's fascinating to look at Turkey's open-door approach versus the American penchant for isolation and sanction and imagine what might have been.
M: Now, when you compare that to the, for instance, the American policy towards Iran, which is 30 years of sterile, rhetorical cockfighting about who's tougher. Now, if you'd had 30 years of millions Iranians seeing how it is to be integrated in the world, over time, the engagement is the way to make the Iranians feel that they don't need a bomb necessarily, and also will soften the unpredictable side of Iran.
KENYON: Peter Kenyon, NPR News.
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