24 April 2007
While the tension between Turkey and Iraq escalates, sparked by the leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region Massoud Barzani's statements, businessmen think such tensions are only political polemics and that they are not affecting trade relations between the two countries.
Seyhmus Ozkan, president of the executive board of Affan Air, said, "Iraqi people have an extraordinary trust in Turkish businessmen," adding, "We will bring 20,000 Iraqis this year." He also said they would begin so-called health tourism after direct flights begin. "Iraqi patients will come to Turkey for treatment." +ūzkan emphasized Iraqi patients with heart and eye diseases in particular would come to Turkey for treatment. "They have grave problems in the health sector due to the conditions the country has to live through. Now there are thousands who want to come to Turkey for treatment."
Iraqis wanted to see Turkey rather than any other European country, +ūzkan said. "Turkish products in Iraq are in high demand. Businessmen coming from Turkey achieve many important things. Iranians, people from Dubai and Syrians cannot do business here, whereas Turkish businessmen have made immense investments. They feel Turkey is closer to themselves than the others. We decided to enter the market when we saw this," he said. "The exchanges of political rhetoric don't affect our trade relations," said +ūzkan. He pointed to the high interest in and demand for Arbil-Antalya flights, which will begin April 25, as an indicator of this.
By Kenan Bas, Todays Zaman