jeudi 2 août 2012

Davutoğlu's historic visit to Kirkuk angers Iraqi government

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu meets Kirkuk Mayor Nejmeddin Karim in Kirkuk city of northern Iraq. (Photo: AA)

2 August 2012 / TODAY'S ZAMAN, ANKARA
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu paid 
a historic visit to Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in 
northern Iraq, on Thursday, as the first Turkish
 foreign minister to visit in 75 years, a move sharply 
criticized by the Iraqi government.

According to a statement released by the Iraqi
 Foreign Ministry on Thursday, the Iraqi government
 was not informed of nor did it approve the Turkish foreign minister's trip.

"All of that was done without the knowledge or approval
of the Foreign Ministry and without going through the
official and diplomatic channels to organize this visit,"
a statement on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's website said.

"It is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate national sovereignty or violate the rules of international relations and not comply with the most basic regulations in the relations of states and officials," the
Foreign Ministry added.

Davutoğlu is the first Turkish foreign minister to set foot
in the city since 1937.

Speaking to reporters at the headquarters of Iraqi
Turkmen  Front, Davutoğlu pledged that Turkey would
 use all of its means to maintain the peace in Kirkuk.

"Kirkuk's unity and fraternity is Iraq's unity and 
fraternity. In Kirkuk, Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs
 have lived together for centuries and they will
 live in peace forever. And we will live together
 in peace with our Iraqi brothers regardless of
 their Sunni, Shiite, Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen or
 Christian identities," Davutoğlu told reporters
whom he greeted in Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic
after a meeting with Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Kareem.

Prior to his speech, Davutoğlu came together with r
epresentatives of Turkmen parties and institutions
in Kirkuk. Davutoğlu sent unity and solidarity messages
 to Turkmens, adding that Turkey has not forgotten them.

"This is the most important day of my life. I am visiting
Kirkuk, which was always in my dreams. I am happy to
 be the first Turkish foreign minister to visit Kirkuk in
 75 years. Kirkuk will be an eternal city of peace in
Iraq where our Turkmen, Kurdish and Arab brothers
 live together," said Davutoğlu, adding Turkey considers
 itself equally close to all ethnic and religious groups
 in Iraq.
The Turkish minister added that Kirkuk will become
one of the fastest-growing cities in the world with its
vast natural resources, adding that Turkey was ready
 to extend any support for the development of the city.

Davutoğlu stated that Kirkuk -- with its history and
social structure -- reflects the soul of the Middle East.

Davutoğlu had a series of talks in the city, which is
also the home of a sizeable population of Turkmens,
 ethnic kin of the Turks.

Turkish diplomatic sources told the Anatolia news
agency that Davutoğlu's visit was long planned but
 it was kept secret due to security reasons.

Davutoğlu's Kirkuk visit followed his meeting with
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud
Barzani for talks on Syrian Kurds. Iraqi Kurds have long
been at odds with the Iraqi government and relations
 between Ankara and Baghdad have also been tense,
due to what Turkey perceives to be the Iraq's Shiite-led government's attempts to monopolize power at the
expense of other groups in the country.

In a development that is likely to further disturb the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
was due to meet with Iyad Allawi, a political rival of
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, later on Thursday in

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