Kirkuk needs the Turkish development model, said Rakan Saeed al-Jubouri, the mayor of Iraq's northern city, on Friday while calling for Turkey to open a representation office there to help contribute to development goals.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), al-Jubouri pointed out that Turkey is the most developed country in the region, adding that Ankara should be represented by an office in the city to help the development and improvement of Kirkuk.
Al-Jubouri noted that Turkey should have a strong presence in the oil-rich city, where Turkmens, Arabs, and Kurdish people are living together, with its investments and development projects.
Kirkuk is among the territories disputed between the central Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is defined in Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, adopted after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein. Accordingly, the administrative statuses of these areas were to be determined with referendums in 2007, but the referendums have not yet been held due to political turmoil in the country.
Although the countryside of Kirkuk is predominantly inhabited by Kurds, the city itself is predominantly inhabited by Arabs and Iraqi Turkmens. The region was subject to an Arabization policy during the Baath Party rule, but after 2003 this policy was reversed in favor of Kurds, prompting protests by the local Arab and Turkmen population and raising concerns in Ankara. During the Daesh terrorist group's advance in northwestern Iraq in June 2014, KRG forces assumed control of the city.
Al-Jubouri stressed they need Ankara for building hospitals, schools and universities especially, adding that Kirkuk province was left in a devastated state after it was liberated from Daesh two years ago.
He previously said that he filed an official request to the central government to open a consulate there.