Iraqi Kurdistan PM says probable Turkish sanctions will affect people on both sides

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ERBIL, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 25: Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani speaks to the press after casting his vote in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) controversial referendum on September 25, 2017 in Erbil, Iraq. The non-binding referendum is taking place in areas under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. AFP

Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, said on Wednesday that people in both northern Iraq and Turkey will be affected economically if the Turkish government imposes sanctions or closes border gates in protest of a referendum for an independent Kurdish state on Monday.

Speaking to reporters from Turkey at a press briefing in Arbil on Wednesday, Barzani said the Turkish and KRG governments enjoy close economic ties as Kurdish oil is traded to world markets through a pipeline that ends at the Turkish port of Ceyhan in southern Adana province.

Underlining that probable Turkish sanctions on oil exports and trade through border gates will affect people in the region, Barzani said: “If the sanctions are imposed, they will affect people. But no one will starve.”

Threatening the KRG administration with cutting off oil exports and halting the flow of food and other goods through its border gates over the independence referendum, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday that the Turkish armed forces could suddenly launch an operation one night in the region.

Calling the decision to hold the independence referendum and act of “treason” against Turkey, Erdoğan said the rate of participation in the referendum and the results were suspicious.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a press release describing the independence referendum as “null” and “void” and said that Turkey does not recognize the referendum, which lacks international legitimacy.

Barzani: Kurdish people pushed away by sectarian Baghdad government

During the press briefing, Barzani also accused the Baghdad administration of being sectarian against the KRG and Kurdish people and said the referendum was the voice of the Kurdish people and not an immediate declaration of statehood.

Through this referendum we showed the desire of our nation to Baghdad and the world. What we did was within the framework of Iraq and will stay within the framework of Iraq,” he explained.

Barzani also underlined that the KRG would ask Baghdad to resolve the issues through dialogue.

Kurdish election commission: 92.73 percent said ‘yes’ in the referendum

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Supreme Election Commission in the Kurdistan region announced the official results of the referendum.

According to the results, 92.73 percent of people voted “yes” and 7.27 percent voted “no” in the independence referendum. Out of 4,581,255 voters in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, 3,305,925 people participated in the referendum, a turnout of 72 percent.

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