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 Turkish FM's speech to Kirkuk's Turkmen community

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Turkish FM's speech to Kirkuk's Turkmen community  4.8.2012  

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visits the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, on August 2, 2012, during a rare visit by a high-ranking Turkish official to the city. His visit comes a day after Davutoglu visited Kurdistan and met Kurdistan president, Massoud Barzani, for talks that focused on the conflict in Syria, and at a time of notably cool relations between Baghdad and Ankara. Photo: Getty Images.  
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Kirkuk has a special place in our heart says Ahmet Davutoglu

August 4, 2012

KIRKUK, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region, — On Thursday Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu paid an unannounced visit to the multiethnic and oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

It was a controversial visit that upset Iraqi authorities, among them Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and officials from Prime Minister Nuri Maliki’s State of Law Parliamentary bloc.

On his visit Davutoglu met with the city’s Turkmen community as well as leaders of the Turkmen Front.

Davutoglu’s speech to Kirkuk’s Turkmen community published by Rudaw .

“After 75 years I am come to Kirkuk as the first Turkish Foreign Minister,” Davutoglu said. “You waited for us too long, but I promise you won’t wait for us that long in the future.”

The Turkmen crowd responded to the foreign minister’s words by cheering, “Welcome Davutolgu,”

“Before I came here I listened to the great master [singer and poet] Abdulwahid Guzelioglu,” Davutoglu continued as he repeated a line from one of his poems. “The mountain learned perseverance from me. Iron chains couldn’t tie me down, but Kirkuk tied me down.”

Hearing the poem, the crowd cheered, “Kirkuk is Turkmen and will remain Turkmen.”

“Kirkuk is as important to us as it is to a Kirkuki singer,” said the foreign minister.

“Iraq is a close friend of Turkey,” he said. “Iraqi people are our brothers: Turkmen, Assyrians, Kurds and Arabs. All Iraqis are dearer to us than life. Whenever a tragedy or a sad news happens in Iraq our heart breaks. When a terrorist attack takes place in Kirkuk and our Kirkuki brothers come to harm, believe me that our hearts are set on a fire that nothing can put it out.

If you live in happiness and peace, we too in Turkey will be happy. If a thorn pricks your fingers, we in Turkey will feel your pain.

I have always wanted to come to Kirkuk, but couldn’t do so because of circumstances. I met with Turkish prime minister and decided to come to Kirkuk unannounced. God willing, I will come back and we will meet again. I bring to you the greetings of the president, the prime minister, the government and the people of Turkey.

Kirkuk has a special place in our heart. I met with members of Kirkuk provincial council and told them that Kirkuk is one of our ancient cities. Kirkuk is a city where Turkmen, Kurds and Assyrians live peacefully together. Maybe there are people who would want to spread sedition and break up your brotherhood, but you stand together against those people and keep Kirkuk as the city of coexistence and peace.

The Turkmen are natives of Kirkuk and will never be erased. Kirkuk is Kirkuk with all its communities. No one can do them injustice. The genuine Turkmen culture in Kirkuk not only has benefited Kirkuk itself and Iraq, it also has benefited Turkey. Kirkuk is always in our thoughts and we grew up as children hearing stories of Kirkuk. Coming to Kirkuk has always been in our hearts.

At the provincial council today we reached many decisions. With God’s help, Turkey will do its best to help reconstruction and security in Kirkuk. Kirkuk is the symbol of unity and integrity in Iraq. If peace prevails in Kirkuk, peace and stability will prevail in Iraq. If there is peace and stability in Iraq, the Middle East will also see peace and stability.

God has granted Kirkuk many gifts and natural resources is one of them. This city must be rebuilt with those resources. Not only in Iraq, but in the entire world Kirkuk should become an example of wealth and prosperity. To meet that end, Turkey will always help Kirkuk. We will be at Kirkuk’s service.”

At this point, a Turkmen resident attending the speech stood up and shouted, “They are annihilating the Turkmen in Kirkuk. Help us!”

In response, the Turkish foreign minister said, “No, be sure that such a thing won’t happen. Kirkuk won’t be without Turkmen and won’t live without them.”

“In the fields of economy and culture we will spare no effort to help Kirkuk. I asked Mr Najmaldin [governor of Kirkuk] and other friends to give me a white sheet and I would sign on it to do for Kirkuk whatever necessary to achieve peace.

Today we decided to make Konya city in Turkey and Kirkuk sister cities. I am a Turkmen of Konya and for that reason I feel your pain very well.

Wherever there is a Turkmen, we have felt responsible towards them and protected them and we will always do so. At the same time, Turkey feels responsible to all humanity. Where in the world a nation is in pain, Turkey will feel obliged to help.

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