Ankara seeks safety for MHP

Ankara seeks safety for MHP

ANKARA - Hürriyet
Ankara seeks safety for MHP

MHP leader Bahçeli plans to pay a visit to Iraq’s oil-rich city of Kirkuk. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turkey has sent a diplomatic note to Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to ensure the safety of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and an accompanying delegation during his visit to Kirkuk at the Eid ul-Fitr holiday. 

Bahçeli plans to pay a visit to Iraq’s ethnically mixed and oil-rich city of Kirkuk and meet with Iraqi Turkmens during the holiday. The nationalist leader is still awaiting an answer about his visa application from the Iraqi Embassy.

MHP officials applied to the Foreign Ministry and provided details of the trip, and requested that the ministry take initiative to ensure the group’s safety. Upon their request, the ministry contacted the Iraqi central government and the KRG via the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil, requesting the necessary measures be taken to ensure the group’s safety.

Bahçeli, who opposes the use of the term “Kurdistan,” will follow a relatively risky route to get to Kirkuk in order to avoid having a KRG stamp in his passport. Bahçeli will first fly to Mosul, which is controlled by the central government, and then travel to Kirkuk via Mahmour, rather than flying to KRG-controlled Arbil and taking a shorter route to Kirkuk.

Bahçeli is planning to perform his Eid prayers in Kirkuk’s historical Nur El-Kebr Mosque. Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made a side trip to Kirkuk without first informing Baghdad. The visit incensed Iraqi authorities and brought already-chilly ties between Baghdad and Ankara to a new low.