Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Zabari: We Need Turkey in Iraq

By Fatih Atik,
Published: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 zaman.com

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zabari, meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday, asked him to lead initiatives to end the Sunni-Shiite tensions in his country.
Claiming that the tension is dragging Iraq into a civil war, Zabari said, “Iraq needs Turkey in all areas, including security. Help us.”
In response, Erdogan highlighted the importance of territorial unity and promised Iraq can always count on Turkey for support.
Erdogan had invited Iraq’s new Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Turkey and had communicated Ankara’s expectations to fight the terror network PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party), the situation in Kerkuk (Kirkuk) and the opening of the second border gate.
In a closed-door meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office, Zabari asked Erdogan to “personally make efforts and to lead” initiatives to establish security in Iraq.
Zabari asked Erdogan to step in and help prevent a possible civil war.
“You have made important contributions in the establishment of domestic security and in easing the Sunni-Shiite tensions in Iraq. However, we need your leadership to help end this conflict. We are keeping a close eye on your activities to prevent the ‘clash of civilizations’ and for global peace. We expect you to conduct similar activities for the establishment of domestic security in Iraq, too.”
‘Turkey will pull its weight’
Zabari brought greetings from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister al-Maliki to Erdogan and informed him that the majority of Iraqis think fondly of Turkey.
“Iraq needs Turkey. We need cooperation in all fields including security, economy, energy, and commerce. Please give them a helping hand.”
In reply, Erdogan said, “The most important problem in Iraq is security at the moment and Turkey is prepared to pull its weight in this issue. It is difficult to cooperate in other areas without first establishing security. We appreciate the Maliki government’s efforts to establish security.”
The PM stressed that Iraqis should have a common understanding and emphasized the importance of national consensus.
Erdogan sent the message that “All Iraqis should strive for unity. Their basic needs, especially the security, should be met. It is important for all Iraqis to act in unity and not succumb to external pressures in order to secure tranquility.”
For the Kerkuk (Kirkuk) issue, Erdogan said that consideration should be given to the region’s Turkmen population and recommended measures to prevent the migration of other ethnic groups to the region.