ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said his country would continue trades with the Kurdistan Region despite disagreements over the referendum, Kurdistan 24 bureau in Ankara reported.
Economic relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are “business as usual,” Zeybekci said, adding that stopping economic exchanges would not benefit Turkey.
The minister emphasized that economic embargos are counterproductive to Turkey’s goal of becoming a regional hub of finance and trade.
He also revealed that contrary to rumors, the Habur border gate remains open.
Turkey and Iraq’s current trade is about $8 billion, $2.5 billion of which comes from the Kurdistan Region, according to the Minister.
A significant number of Turkish nationals have invested in the Region.
Kurdistan held a historic referendum on Monday, defying Western and regional pressure, asking the population to vote if they would like to have an independent country of which 90 percent voted “Yes.”
Enraged by the democratic demands of Kurds, neighboring countries took various measures to punish the Region.
Turkey’s Economy Minister contrasted the remarks uttered by the country’s president.
“You will be left alone when we start imposing our sanctions. Once we shut down the [oil pipeline] valve, [you] will be done,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
The Turkish leader was apparently addressing the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, implying his country could stop the Kurdish oil flow to the Ceyhan port in southern Turkey.
“All of his income will disappear. The moment lorries stop running, they will have no food or clothes. They will find themselves in that [bad] a situation,” Erdogan told an audience during a speech at his Ankara palace.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi issued an ultimatum to the KRG on Tuesday, demanding it turn over control of the Kurdistan Region’s airports and border crossings to Baghdad.
His move was criticized by the US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert who said the US wanted “all sides to engage constructively.”
“We want both sides to come together,” she said, and “move things forward,” but “in a constructive fashion.”
Despite pressure from the US, the UK, France, and threats from Iran and Turkey to postpone or cancel the referendum on secession from Iraq, Kurdish factions across ideological spectrums in the Region united.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany