ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Ankara on Thursday has warned the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence “must be canceled” under threat of retaliation.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag declared the decision to hold the referendum to be a “historic mistake,” on Thursday and added that Turkey would follow “policies that take Iraq’s territorial integrity as a basis,” Reuters reported.
Turkey welcomed the Iraqi Parliament’s vote rejecting the Region’s move towards independence, which authorized Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to “take all measures” to preserve Iraq’s unity in response to the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming referendum on independence, scheduled for Sep. 25.
“The northern Iraq referendum must be canceled, if not it will have a cost and retribution,” Bozdag said, stating the poll could destabilize the security of the region.
“We find the (Iraqi Kurdish) leadership’s insistent stance regarding the referendum and its increasingly emotional statements worrying,” read a different statement released on Thursday, this time by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.
“It should be noted that this insistence will definitely have a cost,” it added. “We call on them to act with good sense and abandon this erroneous approach immediately.”
The Turkish state fears any attempt at statehood by the Kurds in Iraq would embolden others in Turkey, Syria, and Iran in seeking self-rule, if not outright independence.
Despite the harsh words by Ankara, the country’s leaders have previously ruled out any prospects of military action or economic embargo on the Kurdistan Region.
Officials in the US have opposed the timing of the referendum, stating the vote would distract forces battling the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.
Despite calls to postpone the historic vote, the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani has insisted there is no turning back on holding the referendum on Sep. 25.
To soothe the Ankara government’s fears, the Kurdish parties said Kurdistan’s peaceful path to independence was “a guarantee for peace and stability.”
“The Kurdistan [Region] is an important friend and neighbor of Turkey and shall continue to be so,” they said.