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POLITICS > Turkish minister’s Arbil trip gets Baghdad block

ARBIL - Hüriryet Daily News

Tensions between Ankara and Baghdad strain again after Iraq denies Turkey’s energy minister the right to fly directly to Arbil to join an oil meeting

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Energy Minister Taner Yıldız. AA photo

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız. AA photo

Barçın Yinanç Barçın Yinanç barcin.yinanc@hurriyet.com.tr

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız was unable to fly to the northern Iraqi city of Arbil yesterday when the central government issued a last-minute decree seemingly intended to block his visit.

“The central government did not approve, and we landed in Kayseri,” Yıldız told the Hürriyet Daily News after the plane landed in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. Yıldız had been scheduled to fly to Arbil early yesterday to attend the ministerial closing session of a Kurdistan oil and gas conference that is being held for the second time in Arbil. He attended the first conference last year as well.

However, the Iraqi central government issued a decree yesterday morning, just three hours before the minister’s plane was scheduled to take off, requiring all private planes destined for Arbil first to land in Baghdad. After learning of the new decree, the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad, Yunus Demirer, was barely able to reach the Foreign Ministry official on the plane, which was about to take off, in time to halt the departure. Turkish officials realized at the last minute that despite the diplomatic clearance they had obtained from Baghdad earlier, they did not have permission to fly into Iraqi airspace and go directly to Arbil. After consulting with the Foreign Ministry, the minister decided to land in Kayseri.
 “We will make an overall assessment with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Necirvan Barzani,” Yıldız said, insisting that Turkey’s oil interests in Iraq would not be harmed by this incident and there was no change to the roadmap.

Ankara and Baghdad have been at odds over several issues, including Turkey’s refusal to extradite fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi – who was sentenced to death by a Baghdad court – the Turkish military presence in Iraq to pursue outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants and the oil dispute. Baghdad says Arbil’s oil exports to Turkey without Baghdad’s permission are illegal. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s visit to Kirkuk without informing Baghdad in August also incensed Iraqi authorities and brought already cold ties between Baghdad and Ankara to a new low.

“There is a lack of communication between Turkey and Baghdad over this incident, but we are not doing something wrong,” the energy minister said, adding that he may meet with Baghdad’s Energy Minister Hussain al-Shahristani in Istanbul.

Relations between Baghdad and the KRG have been fraught since the establishment of a new military command covering the northern parts of Iraq and over various other long-running disputes, including how to share the region’s oil wealth.

December/05/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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Yousif Yacoub

12/5/2012 10:20:38 AM

This is very expected response from the Iraqi government which wants to show it's sovereignity on all own land. Erdogan;s government is playing with the fire. Intervention with domestic issues and internal affairs of neigbour countries would have a price. Sending weapons to Syrian rebels is unlawful. The region is going to explode thankful the stupid policy this government. It is time for Turkish nation to show refusal. The west and Israel have nothing to do !!. The mission has been done

Truth Teller

12/5/2012 9:59:00 AM

It looks as Turkey think that northern Iraq is a Turkish colony. And Turkey wanted "0" problems with her neighbors.

Faruk Beisser

12/5/2012 9:40:13 AM

Poor fellow, how DARE the Iraqis do that to a member of the Great Leader's party? But then, shouldn't he be flying to the Tsar to obtain more Çernobyls for Turkey?

Red Tail

12/5/2012 9:06:20 AM

Really silly. How old are they? Acting like five.

Turk Uzan

12/5/2012 3:25:15 AM

I find it shameful that the government isn't putting more effort in to the relationships with the Iraqi central government but instead in to a regional government that should even be there .. Iraq president is a KURD him self, which just shows that Kurds can participate in Iraqi gov perfectly fine. I hope you realize erdogan, if this blows up in your face. It's not an Army you should be afraid off, it will be the people's coup this time,
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