World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has committed Turkey to supporting the renewal of economic growth of Iraq.
"We hope Iraq will soon set free from the terror threat and will enable a solid domestic integrity so as to serve as a key actor in the process to build the peace both at home and in the region," Davutoglu told a press coference early Thursday at Ankara's Esenboga Airport before he departed for Baghdad on a two-day official visit to the southern neighbor country.
Davutoglu explained that Iraq has the capacity to become a rising economic power, not only in the region but also in the world by exploiting its rich natural resources for development, once it restores peace at home.
He maintained that Turkey can make contributions to Iraq's rebirth.
"We attach importance to opening new areas of cooperation with Iraq so as to make further use of the potential in transportation, energy, trade, agriculture and tourism," he said.
Davutoglu said the mechanism created by the Turkey-Iraq High Level Strategic Cooperation Council, established in 2009, was disrupted because of the recent instability and violence in Iraq.
He added that Ankara has already agreed with Baghdad on accelerating the council's work, and he will also discuss cooperation in energy and trade along with possible joint anti-terrorism efforts during his talks in with Kurdish regional leaders in Erbil.
On Thursday and Friday, the Turkish premier will hold talks with Baghdad and Erbil officials on bilateral relations, on the continuing threat posed by the ISIL, and on energy issues.
Since mid-June, Iraq with its army and peshmerga forces from the Kurdish region have been fighting to root out ISIL militants, who have taken control of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, including some key oil fields in both countries.
The Turkish prime minister said that the stability in Iraq matters not only for Turkey, but also for the whole region. Turkey will consult with the Iraqi government on the best means of restoring stability, and support the government in those efforts.
During his two day visit to the country, Davutoglu is expected to have talks Iraqi President Fouad Massoum, his aides, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim Jabouri along with Turkmen deputies and other representatives of the Turkmen community in Iraq in Baghdad.
The premier will then proceed to the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil to meet regional President Massoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nachirvan Barzani.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala, Culture and Tourism Minister Omer Celik, Customs and Trade Minister Nurettin Canikli and Justice and Development Party's Deputy Chairman Yasin Aktay also departed for Baghdad to accompany Davutoglu during his visit.
Iraq seeks to fix relations with Turkey in the hope of gaining potential political and economic benefits as Turkey’s Prime Minister visits the country on Thursday upon an official invitation from Baghdad.
The visit will be the first by a Turkish prime minister to Iraq in almost four years. Relations have been sour in the last few years over political differences. Baghdad’s anger was visible over energy cooperation between Ankara and the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq.
With a new government in Baghdad, Iraq is reaching out to neighboring countries while fighting within an international coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, ISIL. Turkey is part of the coalition and has allowed Iraqi Kurdish forces to cross the border into Syria to help fight against the group.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jafari visited Ankara early November and invited Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to visit Baghdad.
“Iraq’s foreign policy is moving towards openness and repairing relations with neighboring countries. Iraq is seeking political gains and offers economic incentives,” said Dhergham Mohamed Ali, Director of the Economic Press Center, an Iraqi non-governmental organization.
Turkey has developed energy cooperation with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq in the past few years. This mutual relationship could see the Iraqi Kurdish region exporting significant amounts of natural gas to Turkey in the next few years.
The region started exporting crude oil independently through pipelines to Turkey where supplies are then shipped to world markets from the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Earlier this month, Iraqi Kurdish authorities said the region increased its exports to world markets through Turkey to 300 thousand barrels per day.
"Iraq’s efforts to improve relations with Ankara would benefit Baghdad more than it would benefit Turkey," Ali said.
While relations have been strengthening between the Kurdish Regional Government and Ankara, the region has reached an agreement with Baghdad last week whereby it exports 150 thousand barrels per day of Kurdish crude oil through Turkey for the benefit of the central government. In return, Baghdad agreed to transfer $500 million to the region as part of its share in the federal budget. Both sides also agreed to continue negotiations to reach a final settlement to their long-standing oil dispute.
Iraq needs to boost oil exports to offset part of the impact of falling crude oil prices. The country has not been able to export crude through the northern oil pipeline running from the city of Kirkuk to Turkey’s Ceyhan since ISIL took control over large swathes of the country.
Iraq’s oil minister said that using the Kurdish pipelines would be a good alternative for the whole country.
Turkey has welcomed the agreement between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government and the Turkish oil minister said it was a guarantee of stability for the two governments.Last Mod: 20 Kasım 2014, 11:51