Erbil-Ankara Seek to Upgrade Economic Ties And Fight Against Terrorism

The Kurdistan Region is prepared to upgrade its cooperation with Turkey in all aspects especially in combating the threat of terrorism and broadening economic and trade ties, said Kurdish President Masoud Barzani at a joint press conference with the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Erbil on Sunday.

“We welcome this visit,” Barzani said. “We highly appreciate it. This is a big support from the state of Turkey, and its people to Kurdistan Region. We thank the state of Turkey, his Excellency the president, yourself, and the Turkish people for your support to the Kurdistan Region.”

The Kurdish president said that Turkey and Kurdistan were both facing the threat of terrorism.

“We all have faced the disease of terror and terrorism. And to face the terrorists we need the cooperation between all sides. Thankfully the terrorists have faced a big defeat in our fronts, and we hope that the terrorists will be uprooted in all other fronts, in Turkey, here [in Iraq], and all other countries.”

“We are ready to upgrade our cooperation in all aspects,” Barzani said, as he explained that they discussed a whole range of issues in “successful meetings” held today between both sides.

For his part, the Turkish PM said that his country did not accept the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activities carried out against Turkey from the Kurdistan Region, warning that they will not accept the de-facto Kurdish administration in northern Syria either.

President Barzani visited Turkey last August on the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the country’s failed coup attempt which Yildrim described as important.

“Your visit after the July 15 coup to Turkey was very important.” Turkish PM Yildirim said according to the Kurdish translation. “It showed clearly your firm stance against the FETO terrorist group, “he said, in reference to what Turkey calls Fethullah Terrorist Organization, “and for this we are very thankful of you.”

PM Yildirim explained that common fight against terrorism, and the economic and trade ties underpinned his meetings with the KRG leaders.

He said: “Regarding terror, the terrorist ISIS group, the terrorist PKK, and the terrorist FETO, are not Turkish problem alone; it is a problem to here [Kurdistan Region], Iraq, Syria and Turkey.”

Yildirim went on to say that Turkey did not accept the use of Kurdish territory for attacks against his country, warning the Kurdish authorities that it was a security concern for them, too.

“Our operation against the PKK is continuing both inside Turkey and also in here. The PKK activities carried out against us from here is not acceptable at all. Every necessary step will be taken to the end [of this threat]. The spread of this group to the west of Sinjar is not acceptable to us. This is a security issue. It is not Turkey’s problem alone, it is your problem, too—it is also Iraq’s problem as well. And to do this, a common effort is needed.”

He added that they are trying to convince Europe and the West to understand that there is no difference between the PKK, a designated terrorist organization by the EU and the USA, and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its armed wing of People’s Protections Units (YPG).

“PKK equals PYD. It equals YPG. They make up names, and for each operation they make one,” he said adding that different names do not fool the Turkish state.

On economy and energy, he said that there will be meetings and further cooperation between respective ministries from both sides, as early as this month.

The Kurdish president and Turkish Prime Minister later visited Peshmerga front line near Bashiqa in Zerdik mountain.