KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani briefly speaks to reporters outside of Esenboğa International Airport in Ankara, Turkey, on July 9, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV
ANKARA, Turkey — The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, arrived in Ankara on Monday. He might meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and will also watch Erdogan’s "meaningful" swearing-in ceremony.
He is accompanied by KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee who is also chief of staff to the prime minister.
“We believe that this is a good step for Turkey's official relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government to be mended, and to give people hope that the political relations we used to have will be strengthened," Dizayee told Rudaw from Ainkawa.
He added that they hope to reach a stage where bilateral relations will surpass just economic and energy ties, "so that we can restore our relations based on politics and mutual interests."
KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee speaks to Rudaw in Ankara on July 9, 2018, ahead of swearing-in ceremonies for Turkey's new government. Photo: Rudaw
Barzani's last official visit to neighboring Turkey was in April 2017. He has not been to Turkey since diplomatic relations hit a low point, following the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum in October 2017, which Turkey opposed.
Describing PM Barzani’s attendance as “meaningful,” Dizayee said the visit is a “good step” for the future of their relations.
Barzani might not meet with Erdogan individually, but his attendance in the oath-taking ceremony is “very important,” he added.
'Thank you, much appreciated,' KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani hurriedly tells reporters while being whisked through security and into a waiting car at Ankara's airport on July, 9, 2018. Video: Rudaw TV.
Landlocked, the Kurdistan Region, seeks to improve ties with Turkey. More Kurds live in Turkey than in any other country.
Many from the Kurdistan Region travel to Turkey for tourism. The KRG has expressed its desire to strengthen its tourism sector.
Oil exports from Kirkuk through a pipeline terminating in Ceyhan, Turkey, stopped after October's events. Both Erbil and Baghdad want to resume exports to Ceyhan, but no mechanism has been agreed upon.
Turkey held snap parliamentary and presidential election on June 24. Erdogan won 52 percent of the vote and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 295 seats.