Turkey, US cannot agree on Iraqi petrol, Turkish envoy says

Cansu Çamlıbel ISTANBUL – Hürriyet – 7.1.2013 – Turkey and the United States do not see eye to eye on resource extraction in northern Iraq, Turkey’s ambassador to Washington has said, while declaring that U.S. companies are not even following their own country’s directives.

“It seems like Turkey’s acceleration of new projects with Iraqi Kurds in the north of the country has not pleased Baghdad and Washington,” Namık Tan told daily Hürriyet on Jan. 6 in the western province of Izmir during Turkey’s fifth annual ambassadors’ conference.

“Is it possible for a country that has multiplied its citizens’ prosperity three or five times to turn its back on some [natural] sources next to its own land? I’m not talking within the context of northern Iraq, it’s also the south there. Iraq is an entire country. Turkey cannot ignore that, but we want to do [business] in compliance with the Iraqi Constitution, on a legal basis,” Tan said, while noting that Washington was discouraging Ankara by suggesting that Turkish involvement in northern Iraq “helps divide Iraq.”

Tan also said there were more than 40 U.S. companies in northern Iraq – a fact that contradicts the U.S.’ own arguments.

“Any firm you can imagine [operates] there, but my firms will not be able to,” he said. “This is not a convincing argument. Really it is nonsense. They say, ‘You cannot convince us,’ and we go, ‘You cannot convince us either.’ We will not have a conflict here on this issue. We will talk and find a common basis for a solution. However, if they think that we will turn our back on those resources and shelve [this opportunity], they cannot convince us on that.”