Iraqi Turkmen: President Gül Calls for Unity
Turkish President Abdullah Gül announced Turkey's wish to see the Iraqi Turkmens unified and working in solidarity.
Below is an article published by Today’s Zaman:
Turkish President Abdullah Gül said on Thursday [5 September 2009] at an iftar (fast-breaking dinner) hosted for Iraqi Turkmen opinion leaders that it is Turkey's wish to see the Iraqi Turkmens unified and working in solidarity.
President Gül hosted an iftar at the Çankaya presidential palace for Iraqi opinion leaders on Thursday. Among Gül's guests were Iraqi Turkmen Front Chairman Sadettin Ergeç, Iraqi Turkmen Assembly President Yunus Bayraktar, Iraqi Turkmens Islamic Union Secretary-General Abbas Betyati, Iraqi Turkmen Justice Party Chairman Enver Bayraktar and other Turkmen deputies serving in the Iraqi parliament. Chairmen of Turkmen associations in Turkey were also present at the dinner.
According to the Web site of the Turkish Presidency, Gül addressed his Iraqi Turkmen guests at the dinner and told them that bad days in Iraq had ended. "I wish for the Iraqi Turkmens to reach peace as a society that experienced immense difficulties for many long years. There is nothing more normal for Turkey than to extend a helping hand to all segments of the Iraqi society," Gül stressed.
Ankara, which remains impartial to the various political groups among the Iraqi Turkmens, evinced the same stance in sending invitations for Thursday's [5 September 2009] iftar. In addition to seven Iraqi Turkmen deputies who have been elected to the Iraqi parliament from various political parties, leaders of Iraqi Turkmen political parties, Iraqi Turkmen opinion leaders and heads of Iraqi Turkmen foundations and associations based in Turkey were invited to the iftar by President Gül.
Iraqi Kurds run three provinces in northern Iraq and claim the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk is also part of their semi-autonomous region. Kurdish claims on Kirkuk are a source of tension between the city's Kurdish and non-Kurdish population, made up of Turkmens and Arabs. The Iraqi constitution envisions a referendum on the status of Kirkuk, but the vote, although planned earlier, has never taken place because pre-referendum requirements, such as a census, could never be carried out.
Turkey, which shares close ethnic ties with Turkmens, calls for a compromise among Iraqi groups on the status of Kirkuk. The United States is also cautious about Kurdish claims over Kirkuk, fearing it could lead to clashes that could affect the entirety of Iraq.