ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Thursday met with newly-appointed Turkish Consul General in Erbil Hakan Karacay to discuss the strengthening of bilateral relations between Kurdistan and Turkey.
According to a statement released on the KRG’s website, Karacay emphasized “the further development of relations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region,” as well as the start of negotiations to resolve the ongoing dispute between Erbil and Baghdad.
“Karacay expressed his country’s readiness to put effort and support into resolving the issues between Erbil and Baghdad,” the statement added.
Prime Minister Barzani said the Kurdistan Region views its relations with Turkey “with interest as Turkey assisted and supported the Region during difficult times, especially before and after the 1991 uprising.”
Regarding the current situation in the area and the disputes between Erbil and Baghdad, Barzani said Turkey “is an important neighbor to the Kurdistan Region and Iraq,” adding that Ankara can play “a positive role in resolving the issues between the KRG and the Federal Government of Iraq.”
According to Turkey’s Economy Minister, the current trade rate between Turkey and Iraq is about USD 8 billion—2.5 billion of which comes from the Kurdistan Region.
Turkey officially opened its consulate in the Kurdistan Region in 2010. Since then, ties between Erbil and Ankara have substantially developed, notably in the energy and trade sector.
However, relations between the two sides became tense following the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25, 2017, independence referendum as Turkey was one of the neighboring countries who strongly opposed the vote.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany