[QODLink]
Middle East

Iraq's Kurdistan backs Turkey peace efforts

Masoud Barzani made the announcement during his first visit to southeastern Turkey since 1992.

Last updated: 17 Nov 2013 10:42
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The president of Iraqi Kurdistan has called on Turkey's Kurds to back a flagging peace process with Ankara, in a show of support for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to overcome a three-decade conflict.

Masoud Barzani made the announcement on Saturday during his first visit to Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast, in two decades.

Ankara hopes to use Barzani's influence as a respected figure among Turkey's Kurds to bring the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) back to the negotiating table.

"This is a historic visit for me ... We all know it would have been impossible to speak here 15 or 20 years ago," Barzani said, as members of the crowd waved green, white and orange Kurdistan flags.

"Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has taken a very brave step towards peace. I want my Kurdish and Turkish brothers to support the peace process," he said.

Ankara seeks to kick start the stalled peace talks since a ceasefire declaration in March. PKK is saying reforms announced by Ankara last month, meant to boost Kurdish rights, had fallen well short of expectations.

Turkey's effort to make peace with the PKK has been given a sense of urgency by Syria's 2-1/2 year civil war in which Kurds have made major territorial gains, paving the way for their long-declared plans for independent governance in parts of Syria just over Turkey's southern border.

Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan share concern about the growing clout of Kurdish militias in Syria, particularly after their announcement this week of an interim administration that aims to carve out an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region.

Both Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish officials in Arbil have criticised the declaration, which lays out plans for a regional government similar to that of Iraqi Kurdistan, seeing it as part of a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Kurds, often described as the world's largest stateless ethnic group, number about 30 million, concentrated in parts of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. While they have had partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, nationalist movements have long been suppressed in Turkey, Syria and Iran.

347

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.