ANKARA (Reuters) — Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani has told a Turkish newspaper that an independent Kurdish state in Iraq was "impossible", in commen’s meant to calm Ankara’s historical suspicion towards Kurdish separatism on its own soil.
Turkey, which has a large Kurdish minority and is fighting Kurdish separatist guerrillas, has traditionally feared that a Kurdish state in neighboring Iraq would reignite independence in the southeast.
Talabani, a Kurd, told the Sabah daily in an interview published on Monday that an independent Kurdish state could not survive because neighbuing Turkey, Iran and Syria would close their borders. Iran and Syria also have a sizable Kurdish minority.
"I tell this to my Turkish brothers: Don’t be afraid of Kurdish independence. To stay within Iraq is in the interest of the Kurdish people in an economic, cultural and political sense." Talabani, who is in Istanbul to attend a global forum on water, also said Kurdish nationalists’ dream of a Great Kurdistan was "a dream in poems". He said his views were shared by Iraq’s autonomous government.
After years of fraught relations, Turkey’s government has improved its contacts with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
The two administrations have held recent high-level meetings and share intelligence in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Talabani met Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan late on Sunday and both men discussed security issues, Anatolian state-run news agency said.