Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to visit Baghdad upon the invitation of the Iraqi central government, whose relations with Turkey have recently become strained over various issues.
CHP Deputy Chairman Faruk Loğoğlu confirmed that the invitation to Kılıçdaroğlu was made by Hummam Hammudi, chairman of the Iraqi parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, during Hammudi's meeting with the opposition leader on Nov. 25 in İstanbul, adding that the CHP leader plans to honor the invitation. “But the dates of the visit are not clear yet,” Loğoğlu told Today's Zaman.
Loğoğlu also underlined that the invitation did not come in an official letter but was made verbally by Hammudi, whom Loğoğlu identifies as an influential figure in Iraqi politics.
According to Loğoğlu, the CHP leader is expected to visit Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk, Najaf and Arbil in addition to Baghdad. "Iraqi authorities have told us that it would be beneficial for the CHP to visit those cities. We will try to visit as long as the schedule permits," said Loğoğlu.
Meanwhile, Loğoğlu also confirmed that a delegation headed by him will visit Baghdad on Dec. 25 to attend a conference on the Middle East organized by the Iraqi government.
Touching upon the recent tension between Turkey and the Iraqi central government, Loğoğlu stated that Turkey should pursue a more inclusive and comprehensive Iraq policy to avoid a further rift in bilateral relations.
Loğoğlu, who criticized Ankara's Iraq policy, said the CHP follows the negative state of affairs between Turkey and Iraq with anxiety and sadness.
“We want both sides, Ankara and Baghdad, to be determined to improve the relations. But here the responsibility falls on Ankara mostly,” said Loğoğlu.
According to Loğoğlu, Ankara has created the impression that Arbil is Turkey's only addressee on the Iraqi side by excluding Baghdad from various talks. “It is wrong to give such an impression. Iraq is a very important country. There are sensitive balances in Iraq, which is currently facing a critical situation. Turkey should follow a policy of embracing the whole of Iraq,” said Loğoğlu.
The Iraqi government has urged Turkey to deal with the country through Baghdad if it wants to maintain good regional relations, and has criticized Ankara's direct outreach to Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, adding that Iraq takes issue with efforts by Turkey to treat the Kurds' northern territory “as if it is an independent state.”
Kılıçdaroğlu to visit Egypt upon Morsi's invitation
Loğoğlu further told Today's Zaman that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi invited Kılıçdaroğlu to Egypt during Morsi's meeting with the opposition leader in Ankara in late September, adding that Kılıçdaroğlu accepted the invitation and that the visit will take place in early 2013.
“The details and the dates of the visit are not clear yet. But we will try to meet with as many political leaders, media representatives and academics as possible in Egypt during the visit,” said Loğoğlu.
Touching upon the recent developments in Egypt, Loğoğlu stated that the CHP would support steps taken in accordance with democratic values, including freedom and equality. “Egypt is going through a critical situation. Our hope is that Egypt will [soon] possess a balanced and democratic constitution,” said Loğoğlu.