Some opinion leaders from the eastern and southeastern Anatolia regions voiced their strong opposition to the independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi Kurdistan in a joint declaration, asserting that no good would come of it.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met some opinion leaders from eastern provinces on Oct. 5, and discussed the recent developments in the region. Following the meeting with the president, the opinion leaders expressed their views in a joint declaration.
"We are on common terms that the referendum in northern Iraq will definitely not bring about any good results for our brothers in the region and that it is an attempt by those who have malign objectives in the region," İskender Ertuş said reading the joint declaration.
Stressing the significance of Turkey's unity, Ertuş read from the common statement: "We expressed to the President Erdoğan that we see loyalty to the nation and to the state as part of our honor, we will not accept any threat or assault on these values and, if necessary, we will confront such an attempt at the cost of our lives."
Commenting on the developments in the region, Mehmet Hadi Kahraman, an opinion leader from Mardin, contended that Turkey has been targeted with the recent steps in Syria and Iraq. He said that despite this, "people will continue to live together as they did for thousands of years."
The KRG's independence referendum, which was held in Sept. 25, has riled Ankara, Tehran and Baghdad, as they fear that Kurdish independence would flare violence in the region.
Erdoğan recently said that Ankara unequivocally rejects the results of the referendum and considers it null and void. He said the KRG would face further sanctions if it insists on the "mistake." Sanctions might include blocking KRG oil exports and closing the Habur border gate. Erdoğan stressed that Turkey would not hesitate in taking any steps, and threatened: "We may come there overnight all of a sudden."
Officials in Ankara have said that the KRG should own up to the results of its steps, which they say throw the lives of people in limbo and cause more conflict in the region. Erdoğan said that Turkey's steps do not target the Kurdish population in the region, as it has no hostility for them.
Arslan Tatar from Şırnak province said that people from the country's southeast are aware of the developments and asserted that Kurds stress the importance of a unified Turkey against those who threaten the peace environment. Tatar said that the meeting with the president was fruitful as everyone who attended conveyed their views.
"The president expressed that the reaction to the referendum is not related to the Kurdish people,e but to show that it is a mistake," said Fevzi Sevgili from Siirt province.