In Ankara, Kurdistan Region President talks ties, trade with Turkish President

The two sides "reiterated their mutual willingness to strengthen bilateral relations between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey, particularly, in areas of trade and economic partnerships."

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A delegation led by Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Friday held discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The two sides “reiterated their mutual willingness to strengthen bilateral relations between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey, particularly, in areas of trade and economic partnerships,” read a statement on the Kurdistan Region Presidency website.

The Kurdistan Region and Turkey maintain strong economic and trade relations. Ties between the two became tense following Kurdistan’s September 2017 referendum on independence, which Turkey strongly opposed.

Since then, however, relations have improved significantly, and trade remains robust.

The two presidents also discussed investment and job creation opportunities by Turkish companies in different sectors of the Kurdistan Region economy.

Discussions also centered around the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing containment efforts, and the wide-ranging impacts of the outbreak, according to the statement. President Erdogan reaffirmed his country’s readiness to offer medical assistance to the Kurdistan Region.

The two presidents also reportedly spoke about the current talks between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal Iraqi government in Baghdad and the recent steps taken to resolve tensions on the borders.

The latest developments in Iraq, efforts to confront the threats of the resurgence of the so-called Islamic State, “maintaining stability in the wider region, and other issues of bilateral interest were also discussed at the meeting.”

Safeen Dizayee, the Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the KRG, who was part of the Barzani-led delegation, described the meeting between Erdogan and Barzani as “productive” on Twitter.

“Enhancing bilateral relations and cooperation in economic and investment areas, ISIS threats and the latest political, security and health situation in the region, were discussed,” he added.

Before the meeting with Erdogan, held at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, the delegation had a sat down with the Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet that the two sides discussed relations between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds, as well as the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey has intensified its bombardment of various areas over its southern border into the Kurdistan Region since mid-June, killing several civilians unaffiliated to the PKK and has caused the displacement of thousands, extensive damage to residences, farms, and killed locals’ livestock.

The PKK, now based in the Kurdistan Region’s Qandil Mountains, is engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule. The ongoing conflict has resulted in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides.  Ankara considers the PKK and its affiliates as terrorist organizations.

Alongside the Barzani-led delegation, two Yezidi children, who were abducted by Islamic State terrorists years ago and were recently found in Turkey, returned and reunited with remaining family members in Erbil.

Read More: Two Yezidi children found in Turkey reunite with family in Kurdistan Region

The Turkey visit by President Nechirvan Barzani comes two days after he went to Baghdad to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, a fierce critic of Turkey’s policies in the region, to discuss bilateral relations, Erbil-Baghdad disputes, and the continued threat of ISIS.

Editing by Khrush Najari