Turkey and Iraq will discuss joint energy projects in oil drilling and the transfer of oil and natural gas to Europe via new pipelines during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's scheduled one-day visit to Baghdad today.
Erdoğan, accompanied by a large delegation, is expected to depart for war-torn Iraq early this morning to meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Alongside security and political matters, energy will be one of the top issues during the meetings. After intense talks, Iraq allowed Turkish companies to receive oil drilling permits. Erdoğan is expected to press Iraqi officials to concede privileges to Turkish companies. Turkish and Iraqi companies could also form consortiums to execute the projects.
Furthermore, rehabilitation of the existing Kirkuk-Yumurtalık oil pipeline and building a natural gas line parallel to it will also be discussed. Turkey wants more Iraqi oil to flow through Kirkuk-Yumurtalık, which would increase the role of its Ceyhan Port.
The two countries will also negotiate the building of petrochemical refinery facilities and electricity generation units. The improvement of electricity transmission lines in Iraq and increasing the amount of electricity exports to Iraq will also be discussed during the visit.
Free trade zones
Turkey and Iraq will also discuss the possibility of establishing free trade zones in southern and northern Iraq. Baghdad has proposed Turkey invest in the southern part of the country and build an industrial zone in the region. Turkey, which will open a consulate in Basra soon, has a positive view of the proposal. Another trade zone to be set up on the border between the two countries was suggested by Trade Minister Kürşat Tüzmen in a recent visit to Baghdad.
Strategic dialogue to increase
The visit, a first prime ministerial one since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 will also mark the launch of a new mechanism between the two neighbors, which aims at improving ties to strategic level. The two prime ministers will issue a final statement underlining the will of both countries to deepen and diversify their ties especially in the fields of economy, trade and energy.
Erdoğan will also ask Iraqi officials to actively back Turkey's efforts to eliminate the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, terrorists based in northern Iraq. In this respect, an agreement on intensifying security ties is expected to be signed during the visit. It could also include the training of Iraqi troops by the Turkish military.