Turkish PM asks Barzani to cancel referendum before too late

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım /Evrim Aydin / Anadolu Agency

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Friday asked Prime Minister of the Kurdistan  Regional Government (KRG) Nechervan Barzani to change his decision on holding a referendum before it is too late, the Karar daily reported.

Underlining that Turkey had warned the KRG about holding an independence referendum, which is also opposed by the Iraqi central government, Iran, the US and Britain, Yıldırım said: “We are asking Barzani in a friendly manner. Stop this wrong decision while there is still time.”

Referring to fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Yıldırım argued that the referendum would create more problems for Kurds in the region.

“Turkey is against any step that will change the territorial integrity of Iraq and the federal nature of Iraq’s constitution. … We don’t want to reach the stage of imposing sanctions, yet if there is an eclipse of reason, the steps Turkey will take are obvious. “

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,” Çavuşoğlu said 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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