In his speech at the opening of the new consulate, Prime Minister Erdoğan said, “Last year Turkey did more than $7 billion worth of business in Iraq, and more than half of that with the northern provinces. There are more than 20,000 Turkish workers currently holding permits to work in Erbil governorate, and more than 35,000 if Dohuk and Suleimaniah are included.” As this demonstrates, there is a strong economic relationship between Turkey and this region, he said. The consulate already issues visas to Iraqi citizens, which has helped to strengthen ties.
Following the public events, President Barzani and Prime Minister Erdoğan held a private meeting to discuss bilateral relations, economic ties and cooperation on energy.
Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to the Kurdistan Region was part of a two-day trip to Iraq. His delegation included the Minister of State for Foreign Trade Zafer Ҫağlayan, the Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz, as well as Members of Parliament, advisers, and business leaders. He was also accompanied by the Ambassador to Iraq Murat Ozcelik, Consul General to Erbil Aydin Selcen, and Several MPs.
Turkey’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade Zafer Çağlayan also attended the opening ceremonies of a Turkish school and two Turkish banks. Turkey’s Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz met the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Minister for Natural Resources Dr Ashti Hawrami to discuss energy cooperation.
While the new Erbil International Airport has been operational for several months already, it was officially inaugurated today. It was built to serve as a gateway for Iraq to the world, and it currently supports almost fifty weekly flights to and from more than twenty international destinations, eight of these being major international hubs in Europe. The airport boasts the world’s fifth longest civilian runway and the facilities are capable of serving up to three million passengers a year. It was designed by the British Scott Wilson Group, and was built by Turkey’s Makyol Cengiz. Erbil International Airport has a contract with Seoul’s Incheon International Airport Corporation for its management and operations.