Barzani to attend AKP convention

Barzani to attend AKP convention

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Barzani to attend AKP convention

This file photo shows Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) shaking hands with KRG leader Massoud Barzani. Hürriyet photo

In another sign of growing ties between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Iraqi Kurdish administration amidst escalating regional tension, the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will attend a key congress of Turkey’s ruling party, news reports said yesterday.

“Since he is the deputy leader in charge of external relations, he is on one side also dealing with foreign guests who will come to the congress,” Abdülkadir Selvi of daily Yeni Şafak newspaper wrote in his column yesterday, which detailed his conversation with AKP Deputy Chair Ömer Çelik.

Barzani and Schroeder

“[KRG President] Massoud Barzani and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have notified [AKP] that they will attend [the congress],” Selvi wrote in his column which was titled as “The calendar which I will not be able to write,” and which analyses the upcoming Big Congress of the ruling party scheduled to be held on Sept. 30.

AKP officials were unavailable to confirm whether Barzani has responded positively to the AKP’s invitation. Foreign Ministry officials were also unable to comment on whether Barzani would hold a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on the occasion of his anticipated attendance to the congress.

Ankara has established closer ties with Barzani as it looks to expand business and energy stakes in northern Iraq, a rapprochement that analysts say could help Turkey gain leverage over Syria’s Kurds.

In early August, Davutoğlu made a side trip to Kirkuk while visiting northern Iraq’s KRG, whose leader has long been involved in a dispute with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This first-ever visit by a Turkish foreign minister to Kirkuk sparked anger in Baghdad, leading its Foreign Ministry to release a statement that accused Turkey of “underestimating the national sovereignty” of Iraq.