Barzani's resignation will herald new era in Iraq and the region, deputy PM says

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 31.10.2017 00:39
Updated 31.10.2017 00:50
Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ speaks to the press on Oct. 30, 2017. (AA Photo)
Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ speaks to the press on Oct. 30, 2017. (AA Photo)

Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ said on Monday that the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) leader's resignation would herald a new era in Iraq and the region, and that Barzani should start to deal with his mistakes.

KRG President Masoud Barzani announced the previous day he would not participate in the Nov. 1 presidential election.

Speaking at the Cabinet Meeting at Çankaya Palace in Ankara, Bozdağ held the KRG leader accountable for regional disputes, saying: "Barzani should own up to his mistakes. Only saying 'I've frozen the referendum' is not enough [...], the cancelation of the referendum is needed."

Underscoring that Turkey's foreign policy is based on respecting Iraq's territorial integrity, political unity and sovereign rights, he said the right solution to this dispute would be within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution.

On Sept. 25, Iraqis in the KRG-held areas -- and in a number of disputed areas -- voted on whether or not to declare regional independence from the Iraqi state.

According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.

The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, with many warning it would distract from Iraq's ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Bozdağ also addressed claims that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder negotiated the release of a German human rights activist in the Büyükada meeting trial.

He confirmed that Schroeder met with President Erdoğan but said no "ongoing legal case" was discussed, underlining that the German activist was released by an independent and impartial court.

The deputy prime minister said Schroeder and Erdoğan frequently meet to discuss Turkish-German or Turkish-EU relations, and added that the last meeting took place with Chancellor Angela Merkel's knowledge.

He then slammed reports suggesting that a negotiation had taken place as efforts to portray Turkey's judiciary as one that takes "orders and directions."

Last week, a court freed German Peter Steudtner and seven other activists pending a verdict in their trial on terror-related charges.

The suspects linked to several NGOs were detained at a meeting on July 5 over aiming to incite violent and chaotic mass public protests, terror group membership and aiding charges.

Bozdağ also criticized the deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Bülent Tezcan for calling President Erdoğan a "fascist dictator" earlier Monday, saying it was "unacceptable".

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın also criticized Tezcan, tweeting: "Bülent Tezcan's discourse of hatred is a certificate of shame for the main opposition. This is not politics, rather it is hostility towards the nation's will."

Kalın added that legal action would be taken over the comment.

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