According to a report from Niqash, Massoud Barzani, the Kurdistan Region Government President, was invited recently to Turkey for talks on increasing economic integration between the two states.
With trade between the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Turkey reaching $9 billion, relations between Turkey and the Region have improved significantly.
Turkey is working hard in the face of competition from other countries to take the lion’s share of economic opportunities in Kurdistan.
“My Prime Minister wants Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region to be integrated with each other through economics,” said Aydin Selcen, Turkish Consul in the Kurdistan Region’s capital, Erbil.
“We hope the border areas between Turkey and Kurdistan Regionwill become more peaceful, so that the areas can turn into a destination for trade and tourism,” Selcen added.
Turkey sees potential for strategic partnership between themselves and Kurdistan and the economic benefits of a close relationship are obvious to both parties.
“Turkey knows very well that Kurdistan is not a sea of oil, it is an ocean of oil,” said Musa Muhammad, an economics lecturer at Salahuddin University in Erbil.
He said the Kurdistan Region needs Turkey to build the region and as an export partner for its oil and gas. And if Turkey joins the European Union, Kurdistan can be the gateway between the Arab Gulf Countries and Europe, since the Kurdistan Region has a 700km borderline with Turkey.
As for Turkey, Muhammad added, Turkey wants to become the main route for the export of Iraqi oil and gas, especially for the proposed Nabucco Pipeline, which takes Iraqi gas to Europe. The pipeline goes through Kurdistan to Turkey. Turkey also sees the Kurdistan Region as a possible gateway to better links with the rest of Iraq and other Arab countries in the region.
According to Muhammad, there is huge competition between Turkey and Iran for dominance in the Kurdish economy. Turkey currently has a lead and is better placed to win the competition because Kurdistan has more joint interests with Turkey than with Iran and Turkish products tend to be of higher quality than Iranian products.