The opening speech of the meeting will be given by the prime minister of the regional Kurdish administration, Nechirvan Barzani. The meeting is co-organized by the Abant Platform, a sub-organization of the Journalists and Writers Association, Arbil's Salahaddin University and the Mukriyani Institute. Arbil Gov. Nevzad Hadi Mawlood will also be among the speakers at the opening session of the meeting. The Abant Platform has organized international meetings in the past in capital cities such as Washington, Brussels, Paris, Moscow and Cairo aimed at finding solutions for the challenges of the modern world.
The platform took up Turkey’s Kurdish issue in the town of Abant in the northwestern Turkish province of Bolu last year. Salih Yaylacı, the secretary-general of the Abant Platform, told Today’s Zaman that the seeds of the Arbil Meeting had been sown during the 17th Abant Platform Meeting dealing with the Kurdish Issue. “The 17th Meeting was attended by northern Iraqi Kurds and, seeing the intellectual polyphony and free environment of discussion, they approached us about a similar meeting in northern Iraq. So we are responding to an invitation,” he said.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Ali Bulaç said the meeting was an entirely civilian initiative with no political goals. “The Abant Platform has organized several similar meetings in the past and this time we are going to discuss the future of Iraq and of the Middle East with Iraqi Kurdish, Turkmen and Arab intellectuals,” he said. Professor Mümtaz’er Türköne, an organizer of the event, had previously told the Zaman daily that the meeting was aimed at bringing the intellectual richness of Turkey to the region.
The two-day meeting will feature four sessions titled “Assessment of the Situation,” “Common Cultural Values and the Future,” “Mutual Dependence and Opportunities” and “Perspectives for the Future.” In line with the Abant Platform tradition, each session will have three or four speakers presenting papers and about 50 participants commenting on these papers. Two of the sessions will be headed by Kurdish intellectuals, namely Dr. Shirzad al-Najjar, an international law professor at Salahaddin University and counselor for higher education in the cabinet of the regional administration, and Dr. Rashad Miran, from the College of Education of Scientific Humanities at Salahaddin University.
The Turkish chairpersons are Professor Mehmet Altan and Professor Eser Karakaş, both long time participants at Abant Platform meetings. Among the Kurdish intellectuals who will present papers are figures such as Sami Shoresh, a former minister of culture for the regional government and a well-known Kurdish commentator on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Iraq service, Professor Halkawt Abdallah, an influential journalist and organizer of the Hope Project, Abdurrahman Siddiq, a former Iraqi minister of justice and chairman of the Strategic Research Committee of the Islamic Unity Party, and Karwan Aqrawi, writer and director of Iraq’s Kurdistan TV.
The participants from Turkey will include Associate Professor İbrahim Kalın, chairman of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) and a columnist of Today’s Zaman, Bulaç, Turkey’s foremost intellectual on Islamic issues and a columnist for Today’s Zaman, Altan Tan, Cengiz Çandar, Bejan Matur and Galip Ensarioğlu, a local politician from Diyarbakır. A particularly interesting figure who will be speaking about cooperation in education between Turkey and the northern Iraqi regional administration will be Professor Salih Hoşoğlu. Hoşoğlu is the president of the Turkish Işık [Light] University established in Arbil. Işık University is often associated with the Gülen movement, together with the 11 Turkish schools established in northern Iraq.