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Ankara reacts to Kirkuk’s referendum decision: Violation of Iraqi Constitution

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Turkey has reacted to a decision of the Governorate Council of Kirkuk to participate in an independence referendum to be held by Iraq’s the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Sept. 25, calling it another serious violation of the Iraqi Constitution, in a foreign ministry statement on Tuesday.

Twenty-one of 41 governorate council members in Kirkuk on Tuesday morning voted “yes” to hold an independence referendum with the KRG.

“While the independence referendum was itself a mistake, a decision today [Aug. 29] by the Kirkuk Governorate Council to participate in the referendum added yet another ring to the chain of mistakes. It is another serious violation of the Iraqi Constitution,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It was underlined in the statement that Turkmen and Arab members of the council boycotted the vote.

The statement also recalled a decision taken by the Iraqi Administrative Court on Aug. 17, 2017 that the KRG has no authority to make decisions on disputed areas.

KRG President Massoud Barzani had announced that the vote on whether to secede from Iraq would be held on Sept. 25.

Turkey strongly opposes the KRG referendum decision. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who paid a visit to Baghdad and Arbil on Aug. 23, called on the KRG on Aug. 16 to review its decision, warning that it could trigger a civil war in Iraq.

“Holding an independence referendum in a country that has so many problems may cause the current situation to deteriorate. God forbid, that could lead to a civil war,” said Çavuşoğlu in his statement, reminding that the KRG took the decision despite the fact that Turkey was against it.

Turkey’s National Security Council [MGK] at a meeting on July 17 stated that “the KRG’s referendum decision will not be able to be put into practice either de jure or de facto.”

Chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli on Aug. 24 said an independence referendum in northern Iraq must be seen as a reason for war for Turkey.

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