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Turkish FM ignores KRG in message of appreciation to countries for post-quake relief

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu released a thank you message for countries that sent search and rescue teams or assistance to Turkey in the aftermath of two powerful earthquakes earlier this month but failed to mention the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), an early contributor to relief efforts.

“A friend in need is a friend indeed! We are grateful…” Çavuşoğlu tweeted when he posted a six-minute video that showed search and rescue teams from various countries in the aftermath of earthquakes that hit Turkey’s southern region on Feb. 6, claiming the lives of more than 45,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

The video included thank you messages for countries such as Greece, Israel, Germany, the US, Bangladesh and Burundi in their own languages.

Although the KRG sent search and rescue teams to Turkey as well as relief supplies on the day of the earthquake, there was no thank you message for it in Kurdish.

Search and rescue teams as well as assistance sent by the Barzani Charity Organization were among the first to arrive in Turkey.

“You were the first rescue team to come to the aid of those struck by the earthquake, as a result of which many died and many more were left under the rubble,” KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said in a speech to the Kurdish teams as he welcomed them home on Sunday.


Çavuşoğlu sparked criticism for not including the KRG in the video.

“+ Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Administration. Spas.. Bi minetdarî..“ tweeted Cihan Ülsen, a local politician from the opposition Deva Party from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, voicing his thanks for the KRG in Kurdish.

Aydın Altaç, a local politician from the opposition Gelecek (Future) Party, tweeted that although Çavuşoğlu and his government do not see the KRG as a friend, “We are them, they are us.”

Even though it remains wary of the establishment of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq, Turkey has been enjoying growing economic relations with the KRG over the past years. The KRG’s roughly 600,000 barrels per day of oil exports are piped almost exclusively through Turkey to the port of Ceyhan in southern province of Adana.

Constant Turkish military operations in northern Iraq against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, have led to tensions with the KRG.

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