Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal (left) met with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Thursday. Photo: KRG/handout
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Region is ready to deepen its economic ties with Turkey, the Kurdistan Region’s prime minister said in a meeting with a visiting official from Ankara. This will start with increased air connections, set to begin on the Newroz holiday.
Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal headed a delegation to the Kurdistan Region and met with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Thursday.
The Turkish delegation “expressed their country’s readiness to further develop relations in all fields, typically economy and trade,” read a statement from Barzani’s office.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) wants their relations strengthened in these sectors as well, Barzani said.
Turkey is the Kurdistan Region's largest trade partner. A large volume of Turkish goods destined for Iraq also transits
through the Kurdistan Region.
The delegation from Ankara has been in Iraq for three days, meeting with Iraqi and Kurdish officials, including security figures. They met Iraq’s National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh and Masrour Barzani, chancellor of Kurdistan Region’s Security Council.
Chancellor Barzani “urged Deputy Minister Onal to play a stronger role in reconstruction in areas cleared from ISIS,” according to a readout from his office on Wednesday.
In February, Ankara announced
it was making $5 billion in loans available for Turkish businesses working in Iraq to help fund reconstruction. Turkey wants to boost its trade ties and investments with its southern neighbour.
Turkish Ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz tweeted on Wednesday that Onal “had talked about our vision for the development of relations with Iraq.”
Onal also met with Deputy KRG Prime Minister Qubad Talabani. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has not issued a statement on his trip.
Ambassador Yildiz also announced
a new direct flight between Erbil and the city of Gaziantep in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdish region. Anadolu Jet will commence the thrice-weekly service on March 21.
Anadolu Jet is a regional airline owned by Turkish Airlines and operating domestic flights between Turkish provinces as well as to northern Cyprus. This is the first time the airline operates flights to the Kurdistan Region.
Erbil International Airport currently lists three Turkish destinations with direct flights – the capital Ankara, Istanbul, and popular tourist site Antalya.