Barzani, Perwer meet Erdogan in Diyarbakir -UPDATED

The head of autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq, Masoud Barzani arrived in Turkey early this morning along with the famous Kurdish singer Sivan Perwer.

Barzani, Perwer meet Erdogan in Diyarbakir -UPDATED

World Bulletin / News Desk

President of the Kurdish Regional Government of northern Iraq, Masoud Barzani, has spoken in the south-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, addressing the crowd saying "the foundations for peace have been laid," before adding "no matter how long the peace process may take, it is still better than one hour of war."

"We thank Erdogan for giving us this chance. This is an important and historic day. I am here in Diyarbakir with you and bring greetings of peace from Kurdistan to the people of Turkey", he began.

"It is the era of accepting one another and living as brothers…the time for unity in the Middle-East has arrived," he said, before adding, "we tried war and it didn’t do any good for anybody. It is time to end the bloodshed of Turkish or Kurdish youth."

Barzani called for the cooperation of all people, saying "I want my Kurdish brothers and Turkish brothers to support this peace project. The struggle for peace is a difficult struggle...no matter how long the road to peace may be, it is still better than one hour of war."

He added: "It was impossible to speak in Kurdish 15-20 years ago like this. However, I speak here in Kurdish and this is a result of the promotion of brotherhood in Turkey. I believe that this process will end in success but we should put all our efforts into it."

He completed his speech chanting, "Long live Turkish-Kurdish brotherhood, long live peace, long live freedom!"

Masoud Barzani and Kurdish renowned singer Sivan Perwer arrived in Turkey passing through Habur Border Gate near southeastern province of Sirnak early on Saturday, where crowds gathered to welcome him.

Accompanied by about 20 cars while entering Turkey, Barzani and Perwer were welcomed by Emin Dindar, the Sirnak MP of Justice and Development (AK) Party, Sirnak Deputy Governor Mustafa Akgun and Sirnak Security Chief Avni Usta.

The two arrived in Diyarbakir hours later to attend inauguration and mass wedding ceremonies upon the invitation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and were welcomed by Mehdi Eker, the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Diyarbakir Governor Mustafa Cahit Kirac, and Diyarbakir independent deputy Leyla Zana at Green Park Hotel where they will accomodate for two days.

PERWER CELEBRATES NEW ERA OF PEACE

A big crowd also rushed to the streets heading to the hotel to welcome Barzani and Perwer.

Perwer, who has been in voluntary exile since fleeing Turkey in 1976, will give a joint concert with Ibrahim Tatlises in Diyarbakir. When asked about how he felt coming back to Turkey, Sivan Perwer said that he felt quite normal and ready to serve the peace process in Turkey. Speaking in front of thousands, he said that the assimilation process in Turkey had ended, and the era of peace and friendship had begun.

"Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the architect of this day of peace," he said. "We are grateful to everyone who made efforts to build this peace atmosphere."

He continued: "Some fell into decay in jails, some were exposed to torture, some left the country like me. I hope that all communities on this soil will lend each other their peaceful hands. These lands have been the stage for many historical moments and revolutions. Akkadians, Sumerians, Persians, Abbasids, Ottomans and many more than these have reigned in these lands."

Ibrahim Tatlises, one of Turkey's most famous folk singers, added, "whoever serves to peace, he is a good human being," before the two went on to sing a duet.

CLASHING VIEWS

"We will see a historic process in Diyarbakir this weekend," Erdogan said ahead of the visit, billing the event as the "crown" on efforts to end a three-decade insurgency by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants which has cost 40,000 lives.

Barzani's visit is about much more than local politics.

Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan share concern about the growing clout of Kurdish militias in Syria, particularly after their announcement this week of an interim administration that aims to carve out an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region.

Both Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish officials in Arbil have criticised the declaration, which lays out plans for a regional government similar to that of Iraqi Kurdistan, seeing it as part of a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian Kurds themselves are divided over the political group whose militias are behind the advances, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has links to the PKK and is seen by Iraqi Kurdistan as a rival for transnational leadership of the Kurds.

Critics of the PYD also accuse it of getting help from outside powers - namely the regional Shi'ite power Iran and Iraq's Shi'ite-controlled central government, which are both allies of Assad.

"Erdogan needs to strengthen his hand with Barzani in Turkey's own Kurdish problem and in developments with Syrian Kurds," wrote columnist Cengiz Candar in Turkey's Radikal daily.

"But Barzani also needs to get Turkey's backing in Iran, Syria and Baghdad," he said.

The semi-autonomous region has finalised a package of deals with Turkey to build multi-billion dollar pipelines to ship its oil and gas to world markets, sources involved in the negotiations told Reuters last week.

But in a delicate foreign policy balance, Ankara has at the same time been seeking to restore relations with Baghdad, which claims the sole authority to manage Iraqi oil, vowing to respect Iraq's territorial integrity and offering to set up an escrow account through which oil revenues could be shared.

"The most critical issue is how to set up a new balance in the Ankara-Arbil-Baghdad triangle," columnist Fehim Tastekin wrote on Middle Eastern news website Al-Monitor ahead of Barzani's visit to Turkey.

"What (Erdogan's) dancing with Erbil and Baghdad at the same time promises to the three parties is simple: if oil and natural gas flow through pipelines with an agreement among the parties, all three will win."

Last Mod: 16 Kasım 2013, 16:58
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