Kurd-Turkmen talks top Turkish PM Iraq
BAGHDAD, — Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan is to visit Iraq and attempt to
broker talks between ethnic Turkmen and Kurds over
their rival claims to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a
Turkmen politician said on Sunday.
"Turkey is pressuring us to narrow our differences
with the Kurds" over Kirkuk, said Saadeddin Arkij,
head of Iraq's Turkmen Front, the largest political
party representing the country's Turkmen minority.
Erdogan arrives on Monday for a two-day visit to
Iraq, during which he will also visit the Kurdistan
regional capital of Erbil, becoming the first
Turkish prime minister to do so.
"One of the aims of the visit is to try and narrow
the gap between Turkmen and Kurds, but it is not yet
certain what measures he will take," Arkij said,
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
that Turkmen politicians and MPs had been invited to
visit the Turkish embassy in Baghdad during
The principal dispute between the Kurds and Turkmen
is over the oil hub of Kirkuk, which has a mixed
Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen population and is claimed
by all three groups.
The governor of Kirkuk province and the head of its
provincial council, who officially report to the
Arab-led central government in Baghdad, quit earlier
it was impossible to govern because of the competing
Kirkuk province is one of a number of territories
that the Kurds want to incorporate in their
autonomous region in the north.
The fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK),
which has rear-bases in the border area, will also
be discussed during Erdogan's visit, the sources in
Turkey has repeatedly accused the Iraqi Kurds of
turning a blind eye to activity within Iraq by the
PKK but their leaders have been careful no to anger
the larger neighbour.
Turkish firms provide some 80 percent of the
region's food and clothes, and trade rose 30 percent
between 2008 and 2009. Overall Iraq-Turkish trade,
much of which passes through Kurdistan, amounted to
seven billion dollars in 2009.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and a delegation of
businessmen are to accompany Erdogan.
The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the most disputed areas by the
regional government and the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
The Kurds are seeking to integrate the province into
the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region clamming it to
be historically a Kurdish city, it lies just south
border of the Kurdistan autonomous region, the
population is a mix of majority Kurds and minority
of Arabs,www.ekurd.netChristians and Turkmen, lies 250 km
northeast of Baghdad.
Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional
attachment to Kirkuk, which they call "the Kurdish
Jerusalem." Kurds see it as the rightful and
perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to
the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city
and other disputed areas through having back its
Kurdish inhabitants and repatriating the Arabs
relocated in the city during the former regime’s
time to their original provinces in central and
The article also calls for conducting a census to be
followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants
decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed
to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having
it as an independent province.
The former regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
had forced over 250,000 Kurdish residents to give up
their homes to Arabs in the 1970s, to "Arabize" the
city and the region's oil industry.
The last ethnic-breakdown census in Iraq was
conducted in 1957, well before Saddam began his
program to move Arabs to Kirkuk. That count showed
178,000 Kurds, 48,000 Turkomen, 43,000 Arabs and
10,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christians living in the
Kurdish populations live in
northeastern Syria [western Kurdistan] and western
Iran [eastern Kurdistan] as well as southeastern
Turkey [northern Kurdistan] and northern Iraq
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