Arbil-Baghdad row temporary but energy deals permanent: Davutoğlu
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
After tension grew following an energy agreement between Arbil and Ankara, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu intervened by calling his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari. Following the phone conversation, it was agreed that Energy Minister Taner Yıldız made a visit to Baghdad. AA photoAnkara expects tension in Iraq to drop and energy cooperation with the central government and the autonomous Kurdish region to expand, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said.
“Today, Arbil and Baghdad are two leaders who don’t get along, but they might get along tomorrow. On the other hand, once it is determined from where the energy will be transferred, it won’t be easy to change afterwards. Therefore, we must focus on what’s permanent,” Davutoğlu said during a live interview late Dec. 6 on private broadcaster Habertürk.
“One wishes for Bagdhad and Arbil to overcome their problems. But Turkey will continue to increase its cooperation on energy and other areas with Northern Iraq,” he added.
Two weeks ago, Turkey signed five trade contracts and one protocol - for the exploration of the multi-billion-dollar hydrocarbon resources of northern Iraq - with Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, stirring Baghdad’s ire.
The Iraqi government reacted by barring Turkish private planes from entering its airspace. Following Baghdad’s move, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, who was due to participate in a key energy conference in Arbil, traveled first to the Iraqi capital to brief about Ankara’s deals with the KRG and to reassure the central government .
The discord comes amid suggestions that a new pipeline, linked to the existing Kirkuk-Ceyhan line, could begin pumping oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan as early as next month.
“Some want Turkey to just sit and watch as the energy flows. But our eyes are now open; energy will flow but Turkey won’t just sit and watch. That energy will flow crossing Turkey,” Davutoğlu said.
“They will make provocations and acts of terror. They will want the fraternal people in this geography to fight each other, to parcel out the energy resources, or for the prices of energy to increase to benefit some countries. But our goal is this: The more peace there is, the more energy there will be. That’s why we want tension to drop in Iraq and Syria,” he added.
Border with Iraq should have ‘loose meaning’
Davutoğlu also touched on the issue of the border between Turkey and Iraq, saying it should “loosen its meaning” in the same way as the borders separating members of the European Union.
“There will be no Turkish-Kurdish conflict in this region. Hopefully, one day you will be able to go to Arbil with your one ID card, in the same way as you can go to Georgia. It will be the same one day for Aleppo and other places, as long as we don’t waste our energy and continue with our vision,” Davutoğlu said.