Iraq and Turkey agree on opening new border gates

Iraq and Turkey agree on opening new border gates

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Iraq and Turkey agree on opening new border gates

Long truck queues at the Habur border gate between Turkey and northern Iraq has been hitting the trade. DHA photo

Turkey and Iraq have reached an agreement to open two new border gates following talks with Iraq’s central government and autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı said in a written statement yesterday.

Habur Border gate, through which 1.6 million vehicles pass annually, isn’t able to meet demands for trade between Iraq and Turkey, which now have a trade volume worth $12 billion a year. Yazıcı recalled that an agreement to open Aktepe and Ovaköy border gates was signed by Turkey and Iraq in 2009 but the Iraqi central government didn’t approve it. During Turkey-Iraq High Level Strategic Cooperation Committee meeting in July, also attended by Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the two countries had negotiations to open Aktepe and Ovaköy Border Gates in addition to Habur Border Gate and also three border crossing points.

Iraqi delegation to visit

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the KRG leader Masoud Barzani agreed to open the Aktepe and Ovaköy border gates in the southeastern province of Şırnak in addition to Habur border gate, during their meeting in Diyarbakır last week.

Yazıcı said Turkey and the Iraqi central government reached an agreement on Aktepe (Şırnak)-Bacuka(Zaho/Dohuk) Land Border Gate and Habur-3 Bridge. A delegation from Iraq will visit Ankara between the last week of November and first week of December. A protocol and memorandum of understanding are expected to be signed during this visit, he said.

Yazıcı said the Aktepe-Bacuka was planned to be opened first. Iraqi and Turkish delegations held meetings for technical evolutions at different times.

At the Turkey-Iraq High Level Strategic Cooperation Committee meeting, the countries also agreed to construct a land and railway border gate in Ovaköy for small vehicles and trains, he said, adding that Ali Rıza Efendi Customs Directorate was established for it. Turkey suggested a proposal for the location of the border gate and the two sides’ railway authorities are closed to reach an agreement on location where the Turkey-Iraq Railway will cross the border.

Also, a third bridge will be constructed in Habur, which is the current border gate between Turkey and Iraq. It is planned to be built in the area between two pre-existing bridges in Habur, Yazıcı said. After signing a protocol between two sides, a tender will be organized by the General Directorate of Highways and the cost will be divided between the two countries, he added.

New border gates will make a considerable contribution to the trade in Middle East, Caucasus and Turkey, Yazıcı said.