Relations between Türkiye and Iraq

Restoring lasting stability and security in Iraq is critically important for Türkiye. In this respect, Türkiye expects Iraq to attain a federal and democratic system on the basis of fair power and revenue sharing with inclusive policies as stipulated by the Iraqi Constitution, in order to fully realize its sovereignty and unity within its borders and to eliminate terrorist organizations on its territory which threatens Türkiye.

Türkiye strongly supports territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq. Türkiye believes that every decision regarding the future of Iraq should be taken by obtaining the consent of all segments of the Iraqi society through dialogue and conciliation. Acts and attitudes violating the Constitution and rule of law in Iraq should be avoided. With this understanding, since the very beginning of the process, Türkiye opposed the illegal referendum held by the KRG on 25 September 2017. Following the referendum, in order to preserve sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq, Türkiye acted in close cooperation with the Iraqi Government. In the following period, bilateral visits have continued and as a manifestation of our will to develop our relations with KRG within the framework of the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq, Minister Çavuşoğlu attended the swearing-in ceremony of Nechirvan Barzani, President of the KRG, in Erbil on 10 June 2019. On the other hand, KRG Prime Minister Mesrur Barzani visited Türkiye on April 15, 2022, and KRG President Nechirvan Barzani on February 2 and March 11, 2022.

DEASH terrorist organization invaded almost 1/3 of Iraqi territories in 2014. As a member of the Global Coalition, Türkiye strongly supported Iraq in its fight against DEASH. On 9 December 2017, then Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared military victory against DEASH. In the post DEASH period, Türkiye has contributed to the reconstruction of the areas liberated from DEASH, return of the internally displaced persons and national reconciliation efforts in Iraq. In this regard, Türkiye announced a pledge of 5 billion USD credit and 50 million USD project based assistance at the “Kuwait Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq” that was held in February 2018.

“High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSC)” mechanism between the two countries was established on 10 July 2008 in Baghdad by a Joint Political Declaration. HLSC mechanism aims to develop cooperation between the two countries on a broad array of issues and through joint projects. The first HLSC meeting held in Baghdad on 15 October 2009, and 48 Memoranda of Understanding were signed. The second HLSC meeting was held in Ankara on 25-26 December 2014 and a joint statement was issued which states importance of cooperation between the two countries. The third HLSC meeting was held in Baghdad on 7 January 2017 during H.E. Binali Yıldırım’s (the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Türkiye) visit to Iraq. The parties, through a Joint Statement, reaffirmed their respect to each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and agreed to develop every aspect of their bilateral relations and to continue their cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The 4th High Level Strategic Cooperation Council Meeting is expected to be held in 2022.

Although there has been a drop in mutual visits recently due to the Covid-19 outbreak, high level visits have gradually resumed as COVID related restrictions started to ease. Since 2020, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Speaker of Parliament and several Ministers from Iraq visited Türkiye. In return, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of National Defense, Minister of Trade and President of Defense Industries have been in Iraq to meet with their Iraqi counterparts.

Bilateral trade volume in 2021 has been 19.5 billion US dollars. Iraq became fifth largest export market for Türkiye (USD 11.13 billion) in 2021. During Iraqi President Berham Salih’s visit to Türkiye on January 3, 2019, both presidents set the goal of increasing the bilateral trade volume to 20 billion USD.

Iraq is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of hydrocarbon resources. Türkiye, with its geographical proximity and as an energy corridor, can play a prominent role in delivering Iraqi oil and gas to global markets. The development of our cooperation in this field with Iraq will also contribute to international energy security in terms of providing supply and route diversification.

Türkiye closely follows the situation of Iraqi Turkmens, who are among the constituents of Iraq and who help strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries. Türkiye constantly communicates with the Iraqi authorities regarding the problems facing the Iraqi Turkmens. Türkiye always reiterates that, Iraqi Turkmens, who are inseparable from the Iraqi society, should be represented fairly in the governing bodies of Iraq.

Presence of the PKK terrorist organization in Iraq poses a threat to Türkiye’s national security and Iraq’s sovereignty. In fact, 7th Article of the Iraqi Constitution obliges the Iraqi Government to prevent any organization from using the Iraqi territory against Iraq’s neighbors. Unless the Iraqi authorities fully implement this Article, Türkiye will continue to take every necessary measure to protect its national security by exercising its right to self-defense in accordance with the international law. Likewise, eradication of the activities of the FETO terrorist organization in Iraq is also among the main demands of Türkiye from Iraqi authorities.