Relations between Turkey and Iraq

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

Turkey strongly supports territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq. Turkey 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 definitely be avoided. With this understanding, since the very beginning of the process, Turkey 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, Turkey acted in close cooperation with the Iraqi Government. In the following period, bilateral visits have continued and as an indication 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 Arbil on 10 June 2019. On the other hand, KRG Prime Minister Mesrur Barzani visited Turkey on November 28, 2019, and KRG President Neçirvan Barzani on September 4, 2020 .

DEASH terrorist organization invaded almost 1/3 of Iraqi territories in 2014. As a member of the Global Coalition, Turkey strongly supported Iraq in its fight against DEASH. On 9 December 2017, the Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi announced the military victory against DEASH. In the post DEASH period, Turkey is planning to contribute to the reconstruction of the areas liberated from DEASH, return of the internally displaced persons and national reconciliation efforts in Iraq. With this aim, Turkey 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 signing of the Joint Political Declaration. HLSC mechanism aims to develop cooperation between the two countries on a broad array of issues and on a basis of 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 the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey visit to Iraq. The sides, through a Joint Statement, reaffirmed their respect to each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and agreed to develop every aspects 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 2021.

In 2020, several top officials from both countries paid visits between two countries at the level of Prime Minister and Ministers. However, in 2020 there has been a decrease in mutual visits recently due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

During Iraqi President Berham Salih’s visit to Turkey on January 3, 2019, both presidents determined the goal of increasing the bilateral trade volume to 20 billion USD.

Our bilateral trade volume in 2020 amounted to 17.33 billion US dollars. Iraq became third largest export market for our country (USD 9.13 billion) in 2020.

Iraq is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of hydrocarbon resources. Turkey, with its geographical advantage, 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.

Turkey closely follows the situation of Iraqi Turkmens, who are one of the constitutive components of Iraq and a bond of friendship between the two countries. Turkey continuously communicates with Iraqi authorities regarding the problems faced by Iraqi Turkmens. Turkey always reiterates that, Iraqi Turkmens, who are inseparable part of the Iraqi society, should be represented fairly in the governing bodies of Iraq.

Presence of PKK terrorist organization in Iraq poses a threat to Turkey’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 Iraqi territory against Iraq’s neighbors. Unless the Iraqi authorities fully implement this Article, Turkey will continue to take every necessary measures to protect its national security by using its right to self-defense in accordance with the international law. Likewise, eradication of the activities of FETO terrorist organization in Iraq is also among the main expectations of Turkey from Iraqi authorities.