Kurdistan Regional Government


President Barzani, Turkey's Foreign Minister Davutoğlu hold historic meetings, announce plans to open consulate

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq (KRG.org) – Turkey’s Foreign Minister Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu yesterday arrived in Erbil for talks with Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, the first ever Turkish foreign minister to visit the Region.

At a press conference following the meeting President Barzani said, “This visit of the Foreign Minister to Erbil is an important step, indeed a historic step. We know that Turkey has an important role in our development, and this relationship requires special attention. I am therefore delighted to announce that Turkey will open a Consulate General in Erbil.”

Mr Davutoğlu was accompanied by State Minister for Foreign Trade Mr Zafer Çağlayan, Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq, senior government officials, and a large delegation of business people and journalists.

The landmark visit marks the first time a Turkish foreign minister has travelled to the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. At a joint press conference, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu and President Barzani spoke with great optimism on a number of issues, including security, enhancement of commercial ties, and economic cooperation.

President Barzani welcomes Turkish Prime Minister’s policy of openness

President Barzani said, “I would like to praise the policy of openness announced by the Turkish Prime Minister. We want peace and stability. We fully support the initiatives of the Turkish government, we congratulate them, and we support them in the interests of the whole Middle East.”

Mr Davutoğlu said he felt at home in Erbil, and thanked President Barzani for the hospitality. The Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of economic trade but also cultural exchange. He called upon Turks, Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen to rebuild the Middle East as brothers. Mr Davutoğlu told the audience that their threat was Turkey's threat as well. He said that Turkey looks forward to cooperating with its Kurdish brothers, and the fraternal relations must not be ruptured. While addressing President Barzani, the Foreign Minister said that Turkey could serve as a bridge to Europe for you, while you could serve as a gateway to the Gulf for Turkey.

Foreign Minister Davutoğlu and the political delegation met with the Kurdistan Region’s leadership, including President Barzani, Speaker of the Kurdistan Region Parliament Kamal Kirkuki, Prime Minister Barham Salih, former Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and senior Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials.

Turkish business delegation meets government officials and business representatives

At the same time Minister Çağlayan headed a delegation of 80 business representatives which participated in a business forum with KRG officials at Erbil Convention Centre, accompanied by the KRG Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Sinan Abdulkhalq Ahmed Chalabi. The delegation was then received at the Khanzad Resort for a dinner reception with the Kurdistan Region Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Kurdistan Region Contractors Union, while Minister Çağlayan joined Mr. Davutoğlu for political talks with the KRG leadership.

The Turkish delegation of 130 people also included 20 journalists and 80 business representatives, in addition to the Turkish government officials.

The delegation was received at the airport by Prime Minister Barham Salih, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Kurdistan Region President Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein, and Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa Bakir.

This morning the delegation visited Ishik University, a Turkish institution in Erbil, and the Qaisari bazaar. Foreign Minister Davutoğlu had the chance to interact with some local citizens and tour the historic Erbil Citadel.

Turkey’s agreement with Iraq for all parts of the country

The Republic of Turkey has recently taken a number of steps to foster greater understanding with the Kurdish population of its own country. At the same time, the relationship between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region in Iraq has expanded considerably over the last several years, based on flourishing trade and commerce.

Mr Davutoğlu arrived in Erbil from Basra, and will next travel to Mosul. Turkey recently signed a 48 point agreement on cooperation with Iraq, and Mr Davutoğlu said that he wanted to ensure that the cooperation agreement would be fully implemented in all parts of Iraq, including the KRG-administered territories.

Turkey is by far the largest contributor to foreign direct investment in the Kurdistan Region, and Turkish firms are active in a wide range of commercial sectors. Many firms have established their bases in the Region, with a view to expanding to the rest of Iraq when the security situation permits.

The KRG continues its policy of openness and strengthening ties with the international community, particularly neighbouring countries. Former Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and senior KRG officials went to the airport to bid farewell to the Foreign Minister and the delegation.

See also Photos of the Turkish delegation's visit to the Kurdistan Region