Turkey summons Iraqi envoy on firm licenses

Turkey summons Iraqi envoy on firm licenses

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey summons Iraqi envoy on firm licenses

A flame rises from a pipeline at Taq Taq oil field n northern Iraq. Turkish firms are very active in Iraq, particularly in the north. REUTERS photo

The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Iraqi ambassador to Ankara over Baghdad’s recent decision to suspend the delivery of new operating licenses to foreign companies.

Iraqi ambassador to Turkey Abdulemir Kamil Abi-Tabikh was summoned yesterday to the Turkish Foreign Ministry over a declaration from Iraq’s Ministry of Trade that put a halt on new operating licenses for foreign companies in Iraq.

“The licenses have been put aside until further notice while “inspections are conducted and arrangements [are made],” the ministry said in a written statement Sept. 12.

Feridun Sinirlioğlu, undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry asked the ambassador for an explanation for the new practice, a diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Existing licenses are safe
The announcement from the Iraqi Ministry of Trade concerning the operating licenses of foreign businesses did not cover existing firms active in Turkey’s southern neighbor, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said yesterday in a written statement.

The minister’s statement came a day after Anatolia news agency reported that the operating licenses of Turkish companies active in Iraq have been halted.

The Iraqi ministry’s decision is temporary and covers all foreign firms, Çağlayan said, adding that this information was confirmed during talks with Iraqi counterparts.

The decision is aimed at new applications for commercial registrations and will last until a new registration system is launched, Çağlayan said.

Turkey most active
“The reason why Iraq’s Ministry of Trade’s decision is perceived as a move against Turkish firms is that Turkey has the highest share among countries active in Iraq. Currently 366 Turkish firms are registered with the Ministry of Trade in Iraq,” he said.

Turkish companies are particularly active in Northern Iraq, which has become a significant trade partner with Turkey.

The Iraqi government’s decision came as Turkish government has refused to extradite Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is currently residing in Turkey. Al-Hashemi defied the verdict of an Iraqi court that sentenced him to death in absentia on charges that he had run death squads in Iraq. Al-Hashemi ruled out returning Iraq until he is guaranteed “security and a fair trial.”