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Turkey calls Kurdish decision to hold referendum ‘grave mistake’

TNAnews| The Turkish Foreign Ministry said a decision by the Kurdistan Region’s authorities to hold a referendum on independence on September 25 was a “grave mistake.”

Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday (June 9) that Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity is a fundamental principle for Turkey. 

"We think this will represent a grave mistake," the foreign ministry added.

Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Heather Nauert, said the U.S. supports a unified, stable, democratic and federal Iraq. 

“We have expressed our concerns to the authorities in the Kurdistan region that holding a referendum, even a nonbinding resolution at this time, will distract from urgent priorities – and that would be the defeat of ISIS, the stabilization, the return of displaced people, managing of the region’s economic crisis, and resolving the region’s internal political disputes,” Nauert told reporters. 

“We would also encourage the regional authorities to engage with the Government of Iraq on a full range of important issues between the future of relations between Baghdad and Erbil,” she added.

German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, also expressed concerns by his country on Thursday against the Kurdish government's decision to hold referendum, saying it could lead to escalation of tensions in Iraq.

"We can only warn against one-sided steps on this issue. The unity of Iraq is on the line," Gabriel said as quoted by German media outlets. "Redrawing the lines of the state is not the right way and could exacerbate an already difficult and unstable situation, in Erbil as well as Baghdad."

Gabriel reportedly said that an ambition by the Kurds will “reignite conflicts in the disputed areas of Erbil and Baghdad,” urging the Kurdish government to maintain Iraq’s unity and focus on the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) alongside the central government.

Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday (June 7) announced it would hold a referendum on independence, in a move the central government in Baghdad is likely to oppose strongly.

The Kurdistan Region’s political parties, not including the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) came to an agreement on Wednesday (June 7) to hold the referendum on the region’s independence this year on September 25.

Representatives from the region’s fifteen political parties and the region’s Independent High Electoral Commission held talks during a meeting headed by Masoud Barzani on the referendum, the stalemate in Kurdistan’s Parliament and the political crisis.

Party representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of holding the referendum on September 25, 2017.


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