ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region and Turkey have agreed to open another international border gate to improve economic relations and tourism, a Kurdish official said on Monday.
The Zete border crossing will be the third international border crossing between the Kurdistan Region and its northern neighbor, and the first between the Erbil and Hakkari (Colemerg) provinces.
The gate is located in the town of Mergasor, which is expected to foster trade and tourism between the semi-autonomous region and Turkey.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Turkish government signed an agreement in 2014 to open the Zete border gate,” but due to the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) and a crushing financial crisis, the project was put on hold, Mergasor Mayor Ghafour Ahmed Mala-Swar told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
“It will be the nearest border crossing between Erbil and Turkey.”
He added work to build the new trade-highway would begin this week, with workers and materials already at the site.
The Kurdistan Region and Turkey currently share two international border gates in the Duhok province. The two crossings are known as the Ibrahim Khalil International and Sarzeri gates.
While Sarzeri is reserved for tourists, Ibrahim Khalil remains the busiest border crossing, for both tourism and trade.
Azwar Mohammed, a shopkeeper in Mergasor near the future border gate of Zete, says the move is a positive one for the Kurdistan Region, particularly for the people in the quiet town.
“People in this area are either government employees or busy with livestock,” according to Mohammed, who believes the border gate will create plenty of jobs and motivate him to grow his business.
The federal government of Iraq has no direct border crossings with Turkey and only has land access through the Kurdistan Region.
Trade relations between the Kurdish region and Turkey generate about $10 billion in revenue annually.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Tayfur Mohammed)