Davutoğlu meets Iraq’s Turkmen politicians, urges unity

August 16, 2010, Monday/ 16:03:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has met with Turkmen politicians in Iraq, discussing protracted Iraqi efforts to form a government and calling for unity in the war-torn country.

“Iraqi Turkmens constitute one of the most important factors representing Iraq’s unity, both in terms of their place in Iraqi society and the geography to which they have spread. For this reason, it is important for Iraqi Turkmens to contribute to Iraq from now on, too,” Davutoğlu said in an interview with the semi-official Anatolia news agency and state broadcaster TRT following a fast-breaking dinner that he hosted on Saturday evening for Iraqi Turkmen lawmakers in Ankara.

Davutoğlu said he discussed the latest political developments in Iraq during his meetings with leaders of Iraqi political factions. He also said that Iraqi deputies also briefed him on the latest political situation in the war-torn country.

Turkey has made efforts to facilitate the formation of a broad-based government in Iraq after a five-month stalemate since the March 7 parliamentary elections. As the withdrawal of US combat troops looms by the end of August, government formation in Iraq is increasingly becoming important. Iraqi Turkmens, who vowed in the past to protect their rights, share close ethnic and linguistic links with Turkey.

Underlining that Turkey attaches great importance to the efforts of Turkmens for solidarity, Davutoğlu said Turkmens have displayed a will to act together on issues related to Turkmens in Iraqi parliament, regardless of their party affiliation and also in the establishment of a Turkmen parliamentary group.

“We attach importance to the unity of Sunni, Shiite, Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen and Assyrian communities in Iraq,” Davutoğlu said, adding that Turkey thinks it is very important for Turkmens to live in peace with other groups in Iraq.

Speaking during the dinner, Iraq’s Youth and Sport Minister Jasim Muhammad Jafar said they reject Iraq’s separation into different regions, stating the Turkmen’s desire to see Iraq in unity, Anatolia reported. Noting the possibility of an alliance that could be formed by Turkmen deputies in the parliament in the future, Jafar said they want to join forces with Turkmens through a single program, which will also be their roadmap. Stressing that they first of all aim for Iraq’s unity, Jafar said their goals are to protect rights of Turkmens and the representation of their community in Iraqi government and in various levels of the state.

Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC) deputy Zale Yunus Neftci said Turkmens, who come from different political blocs and groups, have gathered together in Davutoğlu’s fast-breaking dinner and discussed their work in the upcoming four years in Iraqi Parliament.

A Shiite deputy Hasan Ozmen from ITC said Iraq’s security and stability could also be considered as Turkey’s security and stability, adding that as Turkey is equal to all political groups in Iraq it strengthens the hand of Iraqi Turkmens. He said Turkmens claim for a strong central government in Iraq and that Turkmens also be represented within the authority.

Another Shiite deputy from the Iraqi Turkmen Islamic Union Abbas Hasan Musa Al-Bayati said Turkey has made a great contribution in bringing together different ethnic groups in Iraq and helping to solve their problems. Al-Bayati added that they are grateful to Turkey as its President and Prime Minister regularly visit the country and have helped those injured as a result of attacks by providing aid or by transferring them to Turkey for treatment.

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