MESOP SPOT : ERDOGAN CONTRA BARZANI – Turkey objects Iraqi Kurdistan’s plans to hold independence referendum

1 April 2017 – ANKARA, MESOP / REUTERS — Turkey opposes an initiative by Iraqi Kurdistan authorities to hold a referendum on the region’s independence, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Friday.A top aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a referendum for the people’s future in the Kurdistan Region would be a “wrong step.”

The remarks from Ibrahim Kalin come a day after in Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP leader Massoud Barzani emphasized during a meeting with Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres that “in the near future” a referendum will be held. “We believe that such a move would be wrong step especially during such delicate period … We disapprove mentioning such a matter during times of high security risks,” Kalin said, as quoted by the Daily Sabah media outlet. He reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq.

“Iraq’s possible separation according to ethnic and sectarian lines would not only be limited within the territory of Iraq but rather be spread over the region and everyone will pay the price for such a move,” Kalin added.“We do not think bringing this issue to the agenda is correct, at a time when there are several security risks at the highest levels,” Kalin said, according to Anadolu Agency.

Hemin Hawrami, the senior assistant to Barzani, has stated the official line that Kurdistan may not declare independence immediately after the referendum, but emphasizes the vote would be considered a mandate from the Kurdish people. Kurdish leaders have not officially opened dialogue on this issue with Turkey yet, said Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Spokesperson Safeen Dizayee recently in an interview with the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, explaining that Erbil hopes to start such a conversation with the Ankara after Turkey’s April 16 referendum. The Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission (KIHEC) said a referendum on the region’s independence will not be held without Kurdistan Parliament.