Turkish ministry warns KRG of paying a price if referendum is held

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Turkey warned Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of paying a price for insisting on holding an independence referendum on Sept. 25, in a foreign ministry statement on Thursday.

The statement, which welcomed the Iraqi parliament vote that called the referendum illegal, said: “We emphasize that there will most certainly be a price to pay for the KRG’s insistence on holding a referendum despite all the friendly advice opposing it; for this reason, we invite the KRG to immediately act with reason and give up on their wrong approach.”

Describing the KRG’s leadership’s insistent approach in terms of the referendum and “emotional statements” as “alarming,” the statement said Turkey is ready to lend its support to strengthen political unity and territorial integrity in the region.

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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