Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan visited Baghdad on Tuesday for talks with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein. The topics discussed included water supplies, resuming Kurdish oil exports to Turkey and the presence of PKK fighters in Iraq.
Fidan’s visit paves the way for a future trip by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; a date has not yet been announced.
One key issue between the two nations is the water and dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, both of which originate in Turkey before flowing into Iraq. Iraq has reported a worrying drop in water levels and blames dams in Turkey for the reduction.
Fidan told a press conference, “Ankara approaches the issue from a purely humanitarian perspective.” He also said, “We attach importance to the establishment of an uninterrupted dialogue mechanism based on cooperation in a scientific flow on water.”
Hussein said Fidan had proposed creating a “permanent committee” to address the water issues.
Another topic discussed was the presence of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq. Since 1984, the PKK has waged an insurgency in Turkey that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. Turkey and its Western allies classify the PKK as a terrorist group.
“We expect Iraq authorities to officially recognise the PKK as a terrorist organisation,” Fidan said. “They must not allow the group, ‘our common enemy, to poison our bilateral relations,'” he added.
Hussein said during the press conference, “We hope to find a solution,” regarding the imminent resumption of oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey.
Oil has been a contentious issue among authorities in Baghdad, the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, and Turkey. In late March, an international tribunal ruled that Baghdad has the right to oversee all Iraqi oil exports, prompting Turkey to block Kurdish oil.
Financial questions related to the resumption of oil exports are yet to be resolved. Hakan Fidan is due in Kurdistan Region capital Erbil on Wednesday.