The Kurdish Globe
Barzani meets with highest-ranking officials during two-day visit to Turkey.
After concluding a tour of Europe and the United States started in late March, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani arrived in Turkey on April 29 as his last stop before returning to Kurdistan.
President Barzani met with Turkey's highest-ranking officials, including President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkish media described the visit and meetings as "very important" events in the history and future of Kurdish-Turkish relations.
During the first day of his visit, Barzani met with Prime Minister Erdogan and reiterated improving political and economic relations between the two countries.
The two-hour meeting was held in the Prime Minister's office in Istanbul, and was also attended by the head of Kurdistan Region Protection Agency, Masrour Barzani, and Kurdistan Presidency's Chief of Staff, Dr. Foad Hussein, and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) executive Hakan Fidan, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, and Deputy Foreign Minister Fereydun Sinirlioglu from the Turkish side.
During the meeting, both sides agreed that they need to improve their bilateral relations in political, economic and cultural aspects. They also discussed the current political situation in Iraq and the obstacles in front of the political process in the country.
Both leaders discussed the situation of neighboring Syria and their opinions about the Syrian opposition. Barzani reiterated in the meeting that the rights of Syrian Kurds should be recognized. He also explained to Erdogan the purpose and results of his tour to Europe and the U.S.
While discussing the current situation in Iraq, the Turkish PM criticized his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al Maliki and described his actions as fueling sectarian conflicts among the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis of the country. Erdogan said that this resulted from unilateral decisions and bad behavior with his partners in governing the country.
"The current prime minister's treatment toward his coalition partners, his egocentric approach within Iraqi politics... seriously concern Shiite groups, Mr. Barzani and the Iraqiya group," said Erdogan during a post-meeting press conference.
Erdogan told reporters that the events in Iraq do not have positive indications, especially what is related to the "attitude" of the current Iraqi Prime Minister toward his partners in power. He also added that Maliki's "behavior" has raised concerns among Kurds, Shiites and other political groups in the country.
In a reactionary statement one day after Erdogan's meeting with Barzani, PM Maliki said on Friday that Turkey is becoming a "hostile state" in the region, accusing its prime minister of interfering in internal Iraqi affairs and of sectarianism.
"The latest statements of Erdogan are another return to the process of interfering in Iraqi internal affairs and it confirms that Mr. Erdogan is still living the illusion of regional hegemony," Maliki said in a statement posted on his website.
"It is regrettable that his statements have a sectarian dimension which he used to deny before but that has become clear and is rejected by all Iraqis," Maliki said.
On the second day of the visit, Barzani met with his counterpart, President Gul, and Foreign Minister Davutoglu. The meeting was centered around political situations in Iraq and the region in general and future prospects in this regards.
Both presidents discussed bilateral ties and vowed to improve them in a way that is mutually beneficial for the people of the two countries.
Another topic of the meeting was the Kurdish issue in Turkey, where both sides discussed possible solutions.
"The Turkish government has taken positive steps in the past few years and these acts should be continued and developed," said Barzani, addressing the Kurdish issue in Turkey.
While emphasizing that dialogue is the only solution for this and any other such issues, the Kurdish President refuted reports claiming that he has requested PKK to abandon arms or that he has promised to act as a mediator between PKK and Turkey in Qandil, but stated that arms don't solve the Kurdish issue and other ways should be used in this regard.
Addressing the Kirkuk issue and its future, Barzani said, "Kirkuk people will decide their future by themselves."
During the visit, the Kurdish delegation also met with Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak, co-chairmans of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) as well as Ahmet Turk, a Kurdish member of Turkish Parliament.
Barzani also met with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al Hashemi, who is currently in Turkey after he visited a number of Gulf countries.
Hashemi announced, after his meeting with Kurdistan Region's President in Istanbul, that their meeting was mainly about internal political developments in Iraq, Hashemi's recent meetings with Gulf countries' authorities, Kurdistan Region's Europe and U.S. tour as well as his meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister.
Barzani concluded his tour at Turkey and arrived at Erbil International Airport on Friday, April 20, where he was received by a large number of high-ranking government officials.