Turkish president says ‘Kurdistan’
ISTANBUL – He himself is rather dismissive about it, but it hit Turkey like a bomb: during his official two day visit to Iraq, the Turkish president Gül said the ‘K-word’, that is: Kurdistan. The majority of Turks agitate strongly against the term, since it would bring closer an independent Kurdistan and thereby threaten the unity of the Turkish state.
Gül talked to journalists about northern Iraq and called the region by its official name: Kurdistan Regional Administration. Several newspapers put the word in large letters on their front pages. Gúl’s visit to Iraq is described as ‘doubly historical’: it’s the first time in 33 years that a Turkish president has paid an official visit to Iraq and also the first time that a representative of the Turkish state has used the word ‘Kurdistan’. The matter is sensitive in Turkey because the unity of the state is one of the most important pillars of the republic. Whenever a non-Turk uses the term Kurdistan a furore usually erupts, and many Turks are convinced the international community is out to divide (and weaken) Turkey.
Gül himself didn’t give the matter more importance than it has in his eyes. The newspaper Radikal defends the president by pointing out that he only used the official name of the region. ‘We do not refuse to say the word “Macedonia” just because Greece objects to our doing so’, he reportedly said. The Turkish state does not officially recognise the autonomous region under it’s official name ‘Kurdistan Regional Administration’.
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