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Turkey considers Baghdad only legitimate interlocutor for oil export

A worker is seen at the Tawke oil refinery near the village of Zacho, in the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, on May 31, 2009. / SABAH ARAR / AFP PHOTO /

The Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office has announced that Turkey and Baghdad have agreed that Turkey will consider the Iraqi government the sole interlocutor for oil export, CNN Türk reported on Thursday.

According to the report, during a phone conversation between Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Iraq Prime Minister Haydar al Abadi, Yıldırım said Turkey supports every move by Iraq in terms of an independence referendum that was held Monday by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently threatened the KRG with halting oil exports from the region because of its independence referendum.

Speaking during the International Ombudsman Conference in İstanbul on Monday, Erdoğan said the referendum was unacceptable and added that Ankara would take economic, trade and security countermeasures.

Underlining that the northern Iraq administration can only sell its oil via Turkey, Erdoğan said: “We have the tap. The moment we close the tap, it’s over.”

“There are several measures on the table. … We will see through which channels the northern Iraqi regional government will send its oil and where they will sell it,” he added.
Speaking during an interview with NTV, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also said Turkey is determined to take action if its national security is threatened.

“We will not enter into an adventure unexpectedly in any way, but if there is a position that will harm the interests of our country, then we will respond without delay,” Yıldırım said.
“We will from now on consider only the central government in Baghdad as a legitimate interlocutor, not the KRG based in Arbil,” he added.

Despite warnings from the Baghdad administration and abroad, including from Ankara and Washington, the KRG held a referendum on Monday for a separate Kurdistan state in northern Iraq.

Erdoğan said the Turkish armed forces could suddenly launch an operation one night in the region.

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

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