Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu briefs media to share his vision for 2018 foreign policy in Ankara on January 3. Photo: AA
ERBIL, Kurdistan- The Turkish foreign minister wants to discuss mediating talks between the KRG and Iraqi government during a January 21 visit to Baghdad, saying that Kurds have constitutionally-enshrined rights.
“There are calls for mediation, so we will discuss it with Baghdad when we visit them on 21st of the month,” Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.
The FM added that Erbil needs to declare an end to its aspirations for border change and commit fully to the Iraqi constitution. He insisted that Kurds have their rights enshrined in the Iraqi constitution.
Following the Iraq-opposed Kurdistan Region independence referendum of 2017 and Baghdad’s ensuing control of disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both capitals, official negotiations between the federal and regional governments have not begun.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that he ordered the Iraqi military to resume security talks with their Kurdish counterparts and announced another delegation will discuss international borders with KRG authorities.
FM Cavusoglu expressed that Erbil’s response to a federal court in Baghdad’s ruling is positive.
The federal court has issued three verdicts since the KRG held its vote on independence: It first ruled to suspend the vote in September; next it concluded that the Iraqi constitution does not allow for the separation of any part of the country; followed by the final verdict on November 20, 2017, that cancelled the outcome of the vote.
KRG has said it “respects” the ruling of the court and has agreed to freeze the result of the referendum.
Abdullah Zaidi, who is in charge of the Kurdistan Region portfolio for the ruling National Alliance, has stated that only by the KRG “committing” the rulings can the foundation for Erbil-Baghdad talks be reached.
Saad al-Hadithi, the spokesperson for the Iraqi government, has said that the federal government has not specified any preconditions to enter negotiations with the Kurdistan Region other than the cancellation of Kurdistan’s referendum results.
Safeen Dizayee, the spokesperson for the KRG, said in October that “annulling its result is not as easy as the officials in Baghdad think.”
The referendum does not belong to the government or any political party, but to the people, and “they have decided their future through the framework of this referendum,” Dizayee added.
The historic vote saw 92.7 percent support for independence from Iraq. Independence has not been declared, and Kurdish leaders said beforehand that they had no plans to declare independence the day after the referendum.
The Turkish minister last week announced that the KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani had reached out to Turkey for mending ties but Turkey has some preconditions like not wanting the Kurdistan Region to make another bid for independence.
KRG and Turkey enjoy close ties due to Kurdistan exporting its oil through the Ceyhan pipeline and on to global markets. More Kurdish people live in Turkey than anywhere in the world.
Ankara like Iran also opposed the referendum, but unlike Tehran never closed its official border crossings with the Kurdistan Region, even as Iraq and Turkey conducted joint military operations nearby.
The Turkish president had warned of “starving” the Kurds if they went ahead with the vote.
The KRG has welcomed international interlocutors to observe negotiations with the federal government within the framework of the constitution.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has dismissed international offers by several countries and the UN to help in mediating the talks, saying it is an internal Iraqi matter.
Ankara and Baghdad have also been strengthening ties as the Iraqi government is looking for a route to export its oil, especially that in the recently controlled oil-rich province of Kirkuk, to international markets.