Turkey reiterates calls to cancel ‘illegitimate’ KRG referendum

Published 24.09.2017 16:44
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Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Sunday termed a planned independence referendum in northern Iraq as "illegitimate".

"Any status change, any new formation on the southern frontiers of Turkey will never be tolerated," Yıldırım said while speaking at ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) ordinary district congress meeting in the capital's Mamak district.

Describing the referendum as "null and void", he said that Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) would be responsible for the possible developments after the referendum.

"This referendum will not solve any problems of the Kurdish Regional Government. This referendum will not resolve any issues between the central government in Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government," he said.

Instead, Yıldırım said, the referendum would further "fuel existing instability, authority gap and chaos in the region".

"We demand cancellation of the referendum so that it will not be held at a later date," Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told at a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party district congress in the central Yozgat province.

Referring to Masoud Barzani, the head of northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), he added, "We are telling Barzani and his administration: It is not over yet. Stop playing with fire and cancel the referendum decision."

Bozdağ also warned that the poll would cause catastrophe in the region and threaten the national security of Iraq and neighboring countries.

"It is a direct threat not only to Turkey's national security but also to the territorial integrity, political unity, sovereignty and national security of Iraq. It is also a direct threat to the national security of Iran," Bozdağ said.

"So Turkey could never remain indifferent to such a development," he added.

Blasting the vote as "illegitimate," Bozdağ stressed that the whole world, with the exception of Israel, is opposed to the vote.

"A large majority of the people living under the regional government in northern Iraq are also opposed. The Turkmens are completely against it, the Arabs are against it, a significant part of the Kurds living in the region are also opposed."

Iraqi Kurds in provinces controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq are set to head to polls on Monday to vote in a controversial referendum on whether to secede from Iraq.

Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the U.N. have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.

Iraq's central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.

Barzani has said a "Yes" vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.

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