ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkey considers the Kurdistan Region’s attempt at independence “a wrong step” because it could spread to other regions said a spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.
In Turkey’s view, an agenda for Kurdish independence was “not right at a time when Iraq was passing through a fragile process” while Turkey was fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Remarks from Ankara were in response to President Masoud Barzani’s discussion of independence with the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the latter’s Thursday visit to Erbil.
Talking to reporters at a press conference in Ankara, Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin revealed they had “spoken” to Kurdish officials about the issue, without indulging into specifics.
There was no immediate reply by Kurdistan Region authorities who maintain friendly relations with Turkey at the time of publishing this report.
“Everybody will pay the price” for such a move, claimed Kalin, implying the prospects of similar demands by Kurds in Syria, Turkey, and Iran.
Since the UN imposition of a no-fly-zone over the 36th parallel in 1991, the Region has acted as a model for aspiring Kurds who demand larger cultural and administrative rights in neighboring countries.
Erdogan’s spokesperson also raised Turkey’s opposition to a decision by the Kurdish-majority provincial council of Kirkuk to hoist the flag of Kurdistan along the Iraqi one on official buildings.
He called for “an immediate” reversal of the move that has sparked a backlash among the more nationalistic Turkish party leaders and voters alike.
Turkey’s position regarding a Kurdish secession from Iraq seemed to have realigned over the course of the past three years, with the swift rise and current fall of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.
In 2016, a leading member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Minister Omer Celik said they were unfavorable to the Region’s independence.
Before that, a then-spokesperson for the AKP Huseyin Celik, himself a Kurd, had told the Financial Times a division in Iraq appeared inevitable, and Turkey would consider an independent Kurdistan as “siblings.”
AKP’s founder and then Prime Minister Erdogan had made a similar statement in May 2015, saying the Kurdistan Region was an Iraqi domestic issue.
However, several months later, Erdogan gave signs of his discontent with the Kurdish political empowerment and military expansions in Iraq and Syria.
“We do not want what happened in northern Iraq to be repeated in northern Syria,” he said.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany