ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - The spokesperson for Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Osman Baydemir on Saturday expressed support for a referendum on independence the Kurdistan Region has set, and criticized the Turkish government for its strong language in objecting it.
"There are now preparations in South Kurdistan for a referendum. Messages of respect for the will of the Kurdish people come from all over the world," said Baydemir during a Ramadan dinner with HDP voters in the province of Mardin.
"But, let me put this clear, the message from Ankara is vitriolic. The Kurdish people is entitled to whatever rights the Turkish, Persian and Arab peoples have, no more, no less," Baydemir, who is also a lawmaker for the Sanliurfa Province, stated.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement earlier this week described the move announced by the Kurdistan Region's President Masoud Barzani on Wednesday as "a grave mistake," and highlighted its support for the 'One Iraq' policy.
"The task before us, with our best wishes, is to respect and support whatever decision our brethren in South Kurdistan take," continued Baydemir, according to Kurdistan24's Diyarbakir Bureau.
The independence referendum is set to take place on September 25, 2017.
Baydemir also touched on the ongoing last phase of a US-backed operation to capture the Islamic State (IS) capital of Raqqa, the Syrian city where Kurdish-dominated forces have now pushed into from multiple sides.
"Raqqa is at the point of falling," said Baydemir, employing a Turkish expression President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used in late 2014 to criticize what he had then described as the 'ineffective' American-led aerial bombings of IS militants who had captured most of the Kurdish town of Kobani in northern Syria.
"Kobani did not fall, but [Erdogan's] mask slipped. God willing when the ISIS calamity crumbles down, we will have a foundation for the peaceful, free coexistence of the peoples of the Middle East," he added.
Editing by G.H. Renaud