Hamid Hosseini: As you see, with 400 or 500 years of precedent in Iraq, Turkey doesn’t have any cultural influence in Iraq. Still the second language of Iraqi people is Persian. Until 30 years ago when Saddam came, people of Karbala and Najaf mainly spoke Persian. It was Saddam who banned it. The schools were in Persian there. And you can see that as much as Iranian culture and customs are influential in Iraq, there is no sign of Turkey in Iraq – despite the fact that they say Iraq was under Ottoman empire for 400 or 500 years. You don’t see any Turkish words in Iraqis’ language, but there are Persian words and expressions.
Hamid Hosseini: It is interesting that the volume of our relations with Iraq is equal to four continents. It means that if we put together our entire trades with Europe, Oceania, Africa and Latin America, it won’t be as much as our exports to Iraq. Statistics of 2016 show that the Chinese have 23.5% of Iraq market, the Turks have 23% and we have 20% of Iraq market. We predict that the volume of our relations will increase this year. The first five months of the year showed 31% increase in exporting our goods to Iraq. Therefore, it is a good opportunity for us to increase our share in this market.
Hamid Hosseini: And since 60% of Iraq population live within two hours of the borders with us, Iraqi tourists are coming to Iran. This isn’t desirable for countries like Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. They all want to have a share in tourist market in Iraq. According to foreign ministry statistics, I think we have 5 million tourists, 70% of whom go to Iraq. The level and volume of relations are enormously increasing, which has worried some people.
Hamid Hosseini: Well the enemies can see that we are finding a way to European Union, to the Mediterranean Sea, and in 54 hours, we can move from Tehran to get to Lebanon. We must keep in mind our geopolitical position. The path of Iraq and Syria has increased Iran’s geopolitical position very much. Our position in the world is unique. That is what they are afraid of.
[Hamid Hosseini, secretary-general of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, claims that Persian is Iraqi people’s second language, hoping for increase in volume of relations between the two countries.]