In recent years Ankara has announced large-scale operations against the PKK in northern Iraq, and has bombed numerous refugee camps and civilian areas under that pretext

Turkish foreign minister urges Baghdad to declare PKK a terrorist organisation

PHOTO/REUTERS - El presidente turco, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
PHOTO/REUTERS - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey February 3, 2020.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan today urged the Iraqi government to declare the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) a terrorist organisation, something Ankara has been trying to persuade Baghdad to do for years without success because of uneasy relations with the Kurdish separatist group.

Fidan met with senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad today and later held a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, to whom he warned that the PKK, designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, could "poison bilateral relations between the two countries".

"We hope that Iraq, on the basis of our friendship and brotherhood, will officially declare the PKK a terrorist organisation," said Turkey's chief diplomat, who said the Kurdish group is "a common enemy".

PHOTO/FILE - PKK members

The Iraqi minister, for his part, made no reference to this issue, one of the main points of disagreement between Ankara and Baghdad since the 1980s, when the group began operating in Turkey with the relative blessing of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Ankara has been trying for years to persuade its neighbour to designate the PKK as terrorist, a group that has generated many tensions within Iraq and between the Baghdad government and the executive of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, which has a strange relationship with the Kurdish organisation.

Fidan also discussed the issue with Iraqi President Abdelatif Rashid at a meeting in which they agreed to strengthen "cooperation against terrorism", according to a presidential statement that made no reference to the PKK.

However, Rashid "stressed the importance of respecting Iraq's national sovereignty" in the face of constant Turkish air and ground incursions against the PKK on Iraqi territory, an issue that has created major disputes between the two countries because Baghdad claims that Ankara's operations are illegal.

In recent years Ankara has announced large-scale operations against the PKK in northern Iraq, and has bombed numerous refugee camps and civilian areas under that pretext, prompting Baghdad to recall the Turkish ambassador to the country for consultations to demand a halt to the attacks.

However, Rashid did assure Fidan that Iraq "will not allow any group to harm security and use Iraqi territory as a base to attack neighbours", according to the note.

In this regard, Fidan announced, without giving a date, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Iraq to "address the existing issues" between the two countries.

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