Kurdistan and Turkey open new positive chapter
President Barzani and PM Barzani received Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in the capital city of Erbil to discuss energy and security On Friday November 21, 2014.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with leaders in Kurdistan, his second stop in the violence-plagued country after Baghdad, as he continues the bond-building visit.
In talks with the Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barazani, energy and military cooperation were discussed following a visit seen as a solution to long-standing tensions between Ankara and Baghdad.
«I'm very happy to be visiting Erbil as Prime Minister," Dabutoglu said, adding that discussions had focused on humanitarian aid to Iraq's IDPs and security as well as economic cooperation.
«I would like to reiterate that Turkey will continue to look after its brothers," he said, in reference to those forced to flee ISIL. «We have built camps in Duhok with a total capacity of 35,000 people."
Speaking at a joint news conference in Erbil, Barazani confirmed that 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Kirkuk oilfields will begin to flow into Turkey.
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani said that Baghdad would send Erbil $500 million as part of an agreement reached between both sides last week on solving their budget disputes.
“We have agreed that Baghdad will send the Kurdistan Region $1 billion in two installments and in return we will give Baghdad 150,000 barrels of oil,” said Barzani at a press conference.
This is a massive step, since Turkey has no domestic energy output of its own, and therefore relies on imports.
«Money revenue from this transaction was held effectively in escrow, where it was touched by neither the Kurds, nor Baghdad, but has now been released to Baghdad."
Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, also met in Erbil his Turkish counterpart Ahmed Davutoglu and his accompanying delegation.
The meeting was attended by KRG Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani, KRG ministers of Interior, Peshmerga Affairs, Finance and Economy, Planning, Tourism, and Parliament Affairs, and the Spokesperson of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The two sides discussed the situation in Iraq and Kurdistan and the latest security and military developments in the war against ISIS terrorist organization. They also discussed the outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad as well as Turkey's relations with Iraq and Kurdistan and com- mercial, diplomatic and political relations.
Security was also a major issue in the Turkish Premier's talks with his Iraqi counterpart Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad on Thursday.
Davutoglu «offered Turkish military assistance to Iraq," Abadi said at a joint news conference on Thursday, later adding that this could include arming and training members of Iraq's planned national guard.
Iraqi volunteer forces «need training and we may discuss training these forces in neighboring Turkey," Abadi said. The Iraqi Premier also said that he agreed to visit Turkey next month.
Davutoglu's trip to Iraq follows a visit to Turkey by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari earlier this month that was aimed at patching up the strained ties between the two neighbours.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now Turkey's President, also repeatedly clashed with Abadi's predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki.
The two countries have also disagreed over the protracted Syrian civil war, where mostly-Sunni rebels are seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Shia-majority Iraq is seen to prefer al-Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam, while Sunni Muslim Turkey backs the rebel groups.
Previous attempts to patch up Iraqi-Turkish relations were unsuccessful, but prospects appear improved now that the two countries both have new governments.
«Turkey has always favored a government inclusive of all of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups. No one should be excluded from the political arena. A united Iraq must be built," Davutoglu said.
GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamid