Foreign minister responds to MHP chair Bahçeli’s slamming of Iraq policy
ANKARATurkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has replied to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli’s harsh criticism of the government’s warm ties with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud Barzani.
“We have respect for everyone’s opinion. But there are rules in diplomacy and there are sometimes federal entities formed under another country’s constitution. [The KRG] is our most important ally in Iraq, especially against the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK,” Çavuşoğlu said on March 2.
His comments came after a debate was stirred over the KRG flag being flown alongside the Turkish and Iraqi flags at airports in Istanbul and Ankara, as well as in the meeting room, during Barzani’s visit to Turkey on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27.
Describing the raising of the KRG flag in Turkey as “scandalous,” Bahçeli slammed the government for “recognizing the KRG” and accused Barzani of giving support to the PKK.
After Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım defended the government, saying “the KRG is recognized as an autonomous entity around the world,” Bahçeli responded via Twitter, criticizing the move as being “ill-intentioned.”
“The prime minister says it is not a ‘good intention’ to bring Barzani’s rag onto the agenda. But where is the bad intention in regarding bad as bad?” he tweeted on March 1.
“If Barzani is preferred over us, I cannot interpret that as being in good faith,” he added.
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu responded to the MHP leader, saying the KRG flag was established under the framework of the Iraqi constitution and noting that “the flag, along with the Iraqi flag, was also flown on previous visits.”
“We can respect an opinion that states there should not be [any flag]. But it is not right to say ‘us or them’ or to take this issue in the wrong direction,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on March 2.
The AKP and the MHP have recently allied for a package of constitutional amendments that introduces a shift from the parliamentary system to an executive presidency, as long targeted by the AKP government.