Ankara demands that Iraqi authorities end increasing presence of PKK terror group in Kirkuk, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan says
Türkiye on Sunday voiced concern about the unrest in Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk, where casualties were reported at protests.
“We are saddened and concerned over tensions that have resulted in loss of lives in Kirkuk, which is ancestral homeland of our Turkmen kin,” Türkiye’s visiting Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in the capital Tehran.
Türkiye demands that Iraqi authorities end increasing presence of PKK terror group in Kirkuk, Fidan also said.
“The peace and stability of Kirkuk affect the overall peace and stability of Iraq. We see Kirkuk as a symbol of the culture of peaceful coexistence,” he added.
Fidan said Kirkuk, a city with a long history, has recently endured great suffering and massacres.
“We believe that it is essential to preserve the delicate social balance in this city and ensure equal representation and participation for all groups in governance.
“We have long supported the formula for achieving equal representation and participation of all segments in the city,” he added.
Fidan further said that safeguarding the rights and interests of Turkmen groups is among the key elements of Turkish policy towards Iraq.
“We will continue to oppose the politicization of Turkmen rights and support the Turkmen community in all areas.”
Supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) demonstrated in Kirkuk on Saturday to demand the reopening of a highway linking the city to Erbil.
The highway was closed by Iraqi Turkmens who oppose the handover of the Joint Operations Command building to the KDP.
Protesters blocked several roads by burning tires, forcing the local authorities to declare a curfew in the city.
At least four people have so far been killed in the protests, according to police.
Protests broke out in Kirkuk last week following a government decision to hand over the Kirkuk Operations Command headquarters to the KDP, which argues that the building was previously used by them and should be given back to the party.
Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) were deployed to bases evacuated by the Iraqi army in Kirkuk following the emergence of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group in 2014.
In 2017, Iraqi government forces entered Kirkuk, ending the Peshmerga presence in the city.