Turkey's energy minister visits Baghdad after Turkish FM convinces Zebari
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız delivers a speech during a meeting. Yıldız is planning to participate in an energy conference in Arbil today. AA photoAfter Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu convinced Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari of the “benefit of face to face discussions,” Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız traveled to Baghdad yesterday to brief his Iraqi counterparts on commercial contracts for energy cooperation recently inked between Ankara and Iraq’s autonomous northern region.
Davutoğlu was keen to clarify if there were any misimpressions on the Iraqi side regarding the energy cooperation, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News. He also told Zebari that Turkey wanted to “carry and implement these energy projects under a three-party framework,” the diplomat added.
The energy minister met with Iraq’s deputy prime minister for energy, Hussain al-Shahristani, in Baghdad yesterday. He was set to brief the Iraqi government on a package of energy deals recently agreed between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds, which the central Baghdad government says are illegal.
Last week, Turkey signed five trade contracts and one protocol for the exploration of the multi-billion-dollar hydrocarbon resources of northern Iraq, with Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
As part of the deal, the state-backed Turkish Energy Company (TEC), which Ankara set up to work in northern Iraq, has signed a contract to operate in 13 exploration blocks. In about half of those, it will team up with U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil.
The move comes amid suggestions that a new pipeline, linked to the existing Kirkuk-Ceyhan line, could begin pumping oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan as early as next month, infuriating Baghdad, which insists all energy sales should be made via the central government.
In response to Turkey’s move on energy contracts with the KRG, Baghdad barred Turkish private planes from flying to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on Nov. 30.
A Turkish private plane flying to the Kurdish region was turned back late Nov. 29, a Turkish official confirmed.
A written statement from Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Levent Gümrükçü followed the reports of the airspace ban on Nov. 30.
Ankara and Arbil had “agreed on some commercial deals” but had yet to finalize them, Gümrükçü said, adding that Turkey would be seeking Baghdad’s cooperation on the issue.
A similar move was made by Baghdad last year, when it barred Yıldız’s plane from landing in Arbil when he tried to attend an energy conference in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Turkish energy minister is planning to participate in an energy conference in Arbil today.