Turkey to Reopen Iraq Pipeline

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Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK Turkey to reopen Iraq pipeline

Turkey has warned that an oil pipeline from Iraq will be restored to full capacity if the US Congress approves a resolution describing the deaths of Armenians under the Turkish Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer said that technical teams from Turkey and Iraq had already started work on the pipeline in preparation.

The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has been officially closed since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait 10 years ago, though some exports have been allowed for the last four years under the UN oil-for-food programme.

But Turkey is furious about the US House of Representatives' move.

It has always denied the allegation of genocide and has promised to respond if the resolution is passed.

But this seems unlikely as the bill does not have the backing of US President Bill Clinton and will not be debated in the Senate.

Improving relations

Turkey also announced last week that it intends to send an ambassador back to Baghdad for the first time since the Gulf War.

And the Turkish parliament warned that it might withdraw permission for US and British planes to fly patrols over northern Iraq from airbases on Turkish soil.

However, officials in Ankara have denied that efforts to boost ties with Baghdad are connected to the US draft bill.

State oil company Botas is currently working to upgrade the pipeline, which has suffered in recent years due to lack of spare parts.

But a final decision will have to be taken by the Turkish cabinet before the pipeline can officially reopen.

Genocide disputed

Turkey says that it has lost $30bn in trade revenue because of the sanctions, including $1.5bn directly from the stoppage of the pipeline.

Turkey disputes that over a million Armenians were massacred in a planned campaign of genocide by Ottoman forces in 1915-23.

It says that just 300,000 Armenians died, along with thousands of Turks, during the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), October 12, 2000


This is irritating. Why does our Congress have to fool around with such silly resolutons? Why don't they just adjourn, go home, and campaign?

-- Chance (fruitloops@hotmail.com), October 12, 2000.

It is odd, Chance. In my country, as soon as an election is called, Parliament is dissolved, and no governing decisions are made again until after the results of the election are in. I've been very surprised to read that your Congress is still sitting and, more important, apparently passing legislation. Surely very few of the members would actually be there?

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), October 12, 2000.

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