President Abdullah Gül passed on a report that he had commissioned regarding the situation and demands of Iraqi Turkmens to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani during his first official visit to Ankara on March 7, officials told Today's Zaman.
Iraqi Turkmens had sent a letter to Talabani on Feb. 8 that listed their demands, but the letter went unanswered. Therefore, they decided to use Talabani's Ankara visit as another opportunity to get their voices heard. The Iraqi president said he was cognizant of Turkmens' wishes, which are listed under seven main headings in the report. The primary demand of the Turkmens in the report is the recognition of Turkish as an official language in northern Iraq.
The other requests in the report are as follows: Attacks on Turkmen areas should be stopped; more funds should be allocated from the general budget to Turkmen-populated areas; offices of district governors, deputy provincial chairmen, deputy general directors and other high-ranking bureaucratic positions should be distributed equally among Turkmens, Kurds and Arabs, and Turkmens should be given positions on zoning commissions for urban projects and a be given a share from these projects; the 12 general directorates in Kirkuk should be equally distributed among Turkmens, Kurds and Arabs; and Turkmens should be considered a party in addition to Kurds and Arabs to the settlement of problems in Kirkuk.
The report also notes that the post of governor, deputy governor or parliament speaker in Kirkuk should be filled by a Turkmen. In a letter dated Aug. 13 that was sent to both Arab and Turkmen members of the city council in an effort to persuade them to end their boycott of the council, Iraqi Kurds offered two deputy governorships -- one to each of the two groups. Yet, according to the local administration of Kirkuk, in a law adopted following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, every province is required to have a governing council, and that council can be headed by only one individual. Additionally there is one governor and one deputy governor. Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC) chief Ahmet Muratlı had said last year they wanted the governorship of Kirkuk.
The report, which was prepared by the ITC, was also submitted to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her Kirkuk visit on Jan. 15. Rice had met with Turkmen representatives and was asked to share the report with US President George W. Bush. After a meeting of Gül and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, an official from the UN Baghdad mission had been put in charge of Kirkuk, a move that was well received by the Turkmens. Concerning the Turkmen demands, Talabani reportedly said he would see to them.
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