ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkmen political party leaders and lawmakers in the Kurdistan Region criticized backlash Turkish nationalists in Turkey directed at the flag of Kurdistan in the aftermath of a visit last month by President Masoud Barzani.
Speaking to Kurdistan24 in Erbil on Sunday, a member of the Kurdistan Parliament Aydin Maruf said remarks that appeared in the Turkish media would have a negative influence on relations between the two sides.
The leader of Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli slammed his country’s government for raising the Kurdistan flag at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul and Esenboga Airport in Ankara while welcoming President Barzani.
“Turkey’s policy toward the Kurdistan Region is very positive and a necessary one,” said Maruf, when reminded of MHP’s attitude toward the flag.
“It pains us when Kurdish and Turkish groups speak out against each other. We are two close nations; we need each other,” Maruf, also a member of the executive committee of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, added.
Bahceli called the Kurdish flag “Barzani's rag” and demanded from Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to explain how “the so-called Kurdistan flag” could be flying next to the Turkish flag.
Deputy Chairperson of the Turkmen Reform and Progress Party in Kurdistan Muna Kahveci said statements by Bahceli would only damage Turkey’s image.
Ultranationalist Turkish newspapers, columnists, and websites continued attacking the raising of the Kurdistan flag.
Some even questioned whether it did not count as “government collaboration with terrorists.”
Kahveci, a lawmaker for Erbil at the Kurdistan Parliament, argued such language could only reveal a weakness about those who insulted.
Bahceli also claimed on Twitter that “the evil person Barzani was mercilessly oppressing the Turkmen.”
The Turkmen Development Party leader Muhammad Saadaddin Ilhanli refuted the claims, saying he would not be able to represent the Turkmen as a politician in Kurdistan if that was the case.
“The Turkmen people enjoy all their rights in Kurdistan. If we were oppressed, we would not support Barzani as President,” Ilhanli added.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Murat Ekinci conducted the interviews in Erbil)