Northern Iraq’s PM to make first official visit to Turkey

Northern Iraq’s PM to make first official visit to Turkey

Nechirvan Barzani (Photo: Reuters)

March 26, 2012, Monday/ 17:40:00

Turkish officials said on Monday that Nechirvan Barzani -- Massoud Barzani’s nephew and a senior official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) -- will make his first diplomatic visit to Ankara after being elected prime minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government for the second time.

Nechirvan Barzani took up the position for the second time on Feb. 17, after Berham Salih resigned earlier in the month.

Barzani is scheduled to have meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and security officials in Ankara, where they will discuss the activities of the PKK.

During the talks, Nechirvan Barzani is expected to make positive remarks about the Turkish government’s renewed anti-terrorism strategy. Within the scope of that strategy, Turkey will increase dialogue between the BDP and regional actors, especially with northern Iraq’s autonomous administration, over solving the Kurdish issue.

Barzani’s nephew also said the Kurdish administration is ready to increase pressure on the PKK but ruled out the use of military means to achieve that end. He is coming to Ankara with an offer to embark upon a joint course of action with the Turkish government against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, on the condition that the status of the Kurdish population in the conflict-ridden country is safeguarded. On Jan. 28, Massoud Barzani initiated a conference to rally Syrian Kurdish groups in Arbil, in order to formulate a policy of coordination within the Syrian opposition. The Conference of Syrian Kurdish Groups and Communities was strongly condemned in an official communiqué from the PKK, which considered it “an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of Syrian Kurds and an attempt to divide the Kurds.”

Turkey has tried having talks with the PKK, but the efforts have been fruitless, as escalating terrorist attacks by the group have proved. The government is adopting a new strategy based on tougher anti-terror measures and support from regional leaders.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region is expected to hold a long-planned conference in June in Arbil that would bring together various Kurdish groups based in Europe and neighboring countries.

The conference, which has been delayed for three years due to escalating violence by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Iranian wing, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), is back on agenda.

Fuad Hussein, Southern Iraqi Council president and chief of staff to President Barzani, was nominated to chair the conference’s steering committee, which will also include a member of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Hussein is also lobbying Iraq, Iran and Syria to persuade them to attend the conference as well as attempting to convene Europe-based pro-Kurdish political parties and civil society organizations at the event.

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