Turkmen now third official language in Iraq's Kirkuk governorate

Turkmen now third official language in Iraq's Kirkuk governorate
2 min read
02 March, 2023
The Iraqi government has officially decided to make Turkmen an official language in one of its regions.
Turkmen make up one of Iraq's main ethnic communities [Getty/archive]

Turkmen will become a third official language in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk after a historic government decision this week.

The move comes after many years of Turkmen lawmakers pushing for the language to become another one used alongside Arabic and Kurdish in Kirkuk.

Kurdish has been an official language in Iraq since 2003.

Turkmen make up between 10 and 13 percent of Iraq’s total population, according to unofficial numbers, making them one of the largest ethnic communities there. They reside almost exclusively in the country’s north.

Most are Sunni and Shia Muslims with a tiny Christian minority.

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Prime Minister Mohamad Shia al-Sudani’s decision to make Turkmen an official administrative language in the governorate came after a request put through on Tuesday by Turkmen parliamentarians, who complained of years of marginalisation.

The request was approved a day later.

"The government affirms that it views all groups of the Iraqi people equally, according to its national approach and based on the Iraqi constitution in force," a government statement said upon announcing the decision Wednesday evening.

Kirkuk MP Gharib al-Turkmani praised Sudani’s decision.

"We highly appreciate al-Sudani's position in adopting the Turkmen language as a third language in official correspondence within the administrative borders of Kirkuk Governorate," he wrote on Twitter.

"We promise our Turkmen people that we will continue to demand the realisation of all their constitutional and political rights," he added.

 Former Turkmen MP Hasan Turan also thanked Sudani for his "fair" decision.