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Turkish-Iraqi air dispute resolved, talks continue

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 11/22/2011 12:00:00 AM |

After one day of stoppage, flights between Turkey and Iraq start again as parties come closer to resolving a payment problem. A Turkish mission visits Baghdad today for a permanent resolution. ‘We do not approve of the Iraq’s stance and if this is a retaliatory measure, then Iraq will be the party to suffer’ a minister says

Following talks between officials, Turkey and Iraq resolved a nearly one-day-long flight dispute Nov. 21. Flights between Turkey and Iraq have resumed, but the resolution is only temporary, according to a statement by the Turkish Economy Ministry.

“Upon talks, the Iraqi civil aviation authority lifted the ban on Turkish planes for a week. Thus, the planes of both countries started [mutual] flights,” said the statement.

Iraq banned all Turkish flights from landing in the country starting 11:45 p.m. on Nov. 20 in response to a dispute over nearly $20 million of debt owed to Turkey by an Iraqi government oil company. Iraqi Transportation Ministry spokesman Karim al-Nuri said the decision to block Turkish planes from Iraq was in response to a Turkish threat to seize Iraqi planes over the two-decade-old debt. In return, Turkey also banned the landing of Iraqi Airways planes on its soil.

In a press conference following the seventh round of the World Trade Negotiations Coordination Committee, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said, “We do not approve of the Iraqi government’s stance and if this is a retaliatory measure, then Iraq will be the party to suffer. The Iraqi side should know that Istanbul is one of the world’s most important centers and flights from Istanbul to Iraq link Iraq with the rest of the world. Iraq is an important neighbor and partner and we definitely do not want this sort of problem with Iraq.”

There will be a 15-day hiatus in talks with Iraq during which representatives from the four Turkish companies in question will be dispatched to Baghdad today to meet with Iraqi officials for a solution, the minister added.

Cağlayan said he was confident the two sides would reach a solution, but said “in the case that a solution were not to be found, we have a plan B in place.”

[HH]Banks should look at auto sector

Meanwhile, when asked about the Competition Board’s investigation into the 12 Turkish banks for interest rate fixing, Çağlayan said he did not know how long the investigation would last and that he hoped that the banks would not be subjected to any punitive measures.

He said banks in violation of the law should look to the auto sector as an example of the types of penalties that could be inflicted for bending the laws and regulations.

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