Nationalist leader expects visa for Kirkuk visit
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
MHP leader Bahçeli is planning to pay a visit to Iraq’s ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk. He is still awaiting an answer about his visa application from the Iraqi Embassy. AA photo
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli is planning to pay a visit to Iraq’s ethnically mixed and oil-rich city of Kirkuk and meet with Iraqi Turkmens during the Şeker Bayram holiday. The nationalist leader is still awaiting an answer about his visa application from the Iraqi Embassy.
Bahçeli, who opposes the term “Kurdistan,” will follow a relatively risky route to get to Kirkuk in order to avoid a possible “Kurdistan” stamp in his passport. Bahçeli will first fly to Iraq’s Mosul, which is controlled by the central government, and then travel to Kirkuk via Mahmour instead of flying to Kurdistan Regional Government-controlled Arbil and getting to Kirkuk in a shorter way.
MHP deputy chair Tuğrul Türkeş told the Hürriyet Daily News that they had applied to the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara for a visa and their detailed schedule will be set after the official formalities are completed. “As far as I know, there’s no need for any other permission to take other than visa procedures. Our chairman Devlet Bahçeli had previously met with our Baghdad Ambassador over the issue. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has been also informed,” Türkeş said. Bahçeli and the MHP delegation will arrive in Mousul on Aug. 18, on the eve of the bayram, and travel to Kirkuk via a land route, an official from Turkey’s Mosul consulate told the Daily News.
It’s uncertain whether the MHP delegation will stay in Mosul or not. MHP’s Kirkuk visit will last until Aug. 21. Bahçeli is planning to perform his bayram prayer in Kirkuk’s historical Nur El-Kebr Mosque. Türkeş criticized Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu over his Aug. 2 visit to Kirkuk, implying that Bahçeli’s visit plans had triggered the minister’s surprise visit.
Recalling that Bahçeli announced his plan to visit Kirkuk earlier in June, Türkeş said that Davutoğlu hastily flew to Kirkuk after Bahçeli revealed his visit plan. “Mr. Davutoğlu had never gone to Kirkuk till that day. However, after Bahçeli announced our [prospective] visit, he hastily went to Kirkuk” Türkeş said.