Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kurdistan map angers Çömez during Kirkuk talks

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

A Kurdistan map hung on the wall of an office in Kirkuk where members of the Turkish Parliament held talks with the chairperson of the Kirkuk Provincial Council led to a debate as the map angered Turhan Çömez of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Çömez and his colleague, Orhan Ziya Diren of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), held talks yesterday with council chairperson Rizgar Ali as part of their four-day visit to the region. Their talks will apparently be dominated by talks in the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, the status of which will be decided upon after the results of a referendum slated for 2007.

Following their talks with Ali, Çömez wanted the map to be removed from the wall when he learned that it was a “Kurdistan map,” the Anatolia news agency reported.

“This map is not a proper one,” Çömez was quoted as saying by the agency.

When Ali explained that it was an antique map brought from a museum in London in response to Çömez' question, Çömez continued questioning: “This is a public office, is it proper to have an antique map in a public office? Why don't you hang a new map?”

“We hung the map because it has Kurdistan and Armenia on it,” Ali, who is known to be a staunch member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), responded.

“Maps and borders drawn on them do not matter. What matters is the togetherness of peoples,” Ali said, when Çömez offered him to give “more proper” maps when he visits Turkey.

The conversation between Çömez and Ali apparently continued in the form of a debate.

“The United States will not stay here but Turkey will always be here,” Çömez said as he looked at the antique map from the Ottoman Empire era.

“We can't forget the kindness of the United States towards us. It [the United States] saved us from a dictator,” Ali responded.

On their way from Arbil to Kirkuk, the Turkish parliamentarians had to wait for two hours after a landmine was found on the road. The landmine was defused by the U.S. security forces who escorted Çömez, Diren and journalists accompanying them on their way to Kirkuk.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


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