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 Iraqi Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani to visit Turkey 

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Iraqi Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani to visit Turkey  17.4.2012  

Massoud Barzani, the President of autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq .Photo: AFP See Related Links
April 17, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The president of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq's north Massoud Barzani is set to visit Turkey on 19 April to meet Iraq’s fugitive vice president Tareq al-Hashemi who has been in Turkey since 10 April, ANF Firat news agency website reported.

Barzani last visited Turkey in November 2011, when the two sides made plans to further their cooperation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has camps in autonomous Kurdistan region, Turkish Hurriyet daily news reported.

Following the meeting of two major Iraqi politicians in Istanbul, Massoud Barzani is also expected to meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Istanbul.

The northern Iraqi’s visit comes after fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad, arrived in Istanbul last week. The trip provides another indication of the political unity among Ankara, the Iraqi Kurdistan government and the Sunni leader against Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Hashemi is currently sheltering in the autonomous Kurdish region, which he left for a regional trip including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Barzani was warmly welcomed by the U.S. administration last week, which was also perceived as a warning to al-Maliki’s government in its disputes with the KRG.

Meanwhile, al-Hashemi has said he will stay in Istanbul for “however long is necessary” and that Iraq needs Turkey’s help in solving its political crisis.

It is reported that the Turkish government which intends to have a role in the political crisis in Iraq will share notes with Barzani and Hashemi on ‘a national conference’.

Against the increasing activity of Tehran, the ruling AKP government intends to get involved by exploiting Barzani and Hashemi balance in Iraq where the political scene has been reshaping since Hashemi’s asylum to South Kurdistan.

Hashemi has asked Erdoğan and Davutoğlu to include Ankara to enable the conference to take place in Hewler [Erbil], Ankara is reported to be supporting Barzani’s call to make the conference in Erbil because of the arrest warrant issued for Hashemi.

Iraqi National Conference which was scheduled for 5 April in Baghdad was suspended because of great controversies between political sides.

In the meantime, Iraqi President Nuri El Maliki’s right hand Falih al-Fayyad , National Security Minister, paid a visit to Turkey on 6 April.

On the other hand, some sources report that in Barzani's agenda (he will visit Turkey following an invitation by Ankara) is not only the subject of Hashemi but also the PKK issue. It is reported that the AKP government, concerned over PKK’s increasing power and activity in the territory of West Kurdistan, Syria, will bring the issue to the table and discuss it with Barzani.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

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