Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim met in Ankara last month. Photo: AFP/Hakan Goktepe/Turkish Prime Minister Office
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Turkish government approved the opening of a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) representation office in Ankara last year, but the crippling financial situation has been an obstacle to its establishment.
“We both have agreed to upgrade our diplomatic relations. The opening of a KRG office in Ankara has been approved. But the financial crisis has delayed the process,” KRG head of foreign relations Falah Mustafa told Rudaw.
“The government has cut down on spending. That is why the current financial conditions are not appropriate to open a government representation office in Turkey,” he added.
The KRG has 14 representation offices in Germany, Britain, USA, Iran, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Russia, Poland, Australia, Sweden, Belgium, and Switzerland.
It does not have a representation office in Turkey despite having strong relations with Ankara.
“There are many problems between Turkish and Kurdish companies. I have suggested that the KRG initially open a trade office in Istanbul and later turn it into a representation. There are many outstanding problems here due to the lack of a trade or representation office,” the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) representative to Turkey, Bahroz Galali, told Rudaw.
“The delay in opening a KRG representation office in Turkey might be related to issues of what title or official status the office should have. According to the Iraqi constitution, an office specific to Kurds should be opened in Iraqi embassies in the world. This would resolve many problems. But this has not been done,” he added.
Following the establishment of the KRG in 1992, relations with Turkey have gone through many phases. Current relations are still within a party framework, despite strong relations between Erbil and Ankara after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) assumed power Turkey. The PUK, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Islamic Union, and Islamic Movement all have representations in Turkey.
“We have representations only in Iran and Turkey. In the past, there have always been party representatives in Turkey, but party representation was officially opened in Ankara last year, as this country has its own significance for the Kurdistan Region,” head of relations for the Islamic Union, Nasradin Sindi, told Rudaw.
The Turkish government opened consulates in Erbil and Basra, southern Iraq, a few years ago. It also had a consulate in Mosul prior to ISIS. Turkey wants to open a consulate in Sulaimani, as well. Sulaimani officials said that a Turkish consulate was planned to be opened in the city in March 2016.
“Most procedures are done. The Turkish government itself will set the timing of the opening of the consulate. There are no problems for this,” Mustafa added.
“There are no political reasons that impede the opening of the Turkish consulate in Sulaimani. Opening the consulate will facilitate things for the people of Sulaimani who currently have to travel to Erbil to apply for visas. In addition, there are many Turkish companies working in this region, which are second only to Iranian companies,” Sulaimani provincial council member Rekawt Zaki told Rudaw.