LAST_UPDATESat, 20 Jan 2018 4pm

Turkey Warns KRG Against Independence Referendum

ANKARA -- The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Thursday that there would be a "price to pay" should the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq insist on holding the independence referendum, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported.

“We stress the KRG needs to consider that there will absolutely be a price [to pay] for insisting on [...] holding a referendum despite all the friendly suggestions [to do otherwise],” a written statement released by the ministry said.

“In this respect, we are calling on the KRG to act with common sense and to give up its mistaken approach as soon as possible," it added.

The Foreign Ministry also expressed its support to the recent decision by Iraqi Council of Representatives that voted Tuesday in opposition to the Sept 25 referendum planned by the KRG and called on the Baghdad government to negotiate with the semi-autonomous Kurdish government.

The Turkish ministry said the decision was a “clear expression of the importance that was attached on Iraq’s political unity and territorial integrity”.

Turkey wants Baghdad and Erbil to resolve the dispute through "dialogue" and conduct ties based on constitution and justice, the statement added.

This month’s scheduled referendum will see residents of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region vote on whether or not to declare independence from the Iraqi state, Anadolu Agency reported.

Baghdad, however, rejects the planned poll, saying it will adversely affect the ongoing fight against Daesh, which -- despite a string of recent defeats -- still maintains a significant presence in northern Iraq.

The Iraqi government also believes that holding the poll would violate the terms of the country's national charter.

Turkey, too, rejects the planned referendum, saying the region’s stability depends on the unity of Iraq and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.

Washington has likewise voiced concern that the poll could serve as a “distraction” from other pressing regional issues, especially the fight against terrorism and the stabilisation of post-Daesh Iraq.