Turkey reiterates to not recognize KRG’s independence referendum

Turkey's Foreign Ministry

Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a press release describing an independence referendum, which is being held by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as “null” and “void” and said that Turkey does not recognize the referendum which lacks international legal legitimacy.

Claiming that KRG jeopardized the stability and peace in the region by ignoring the warnings of Turkey and holding the referendum, the ministry said KRG’s act will have a price and sanctions will be imposed against it.

“The referendum, which is being held on Monday in the KRG, is null and void in terms of its consequences. We do not recognize this initiative, which lacks legal basis and legitimacy with regard to the international law and the Iraqi constitution,” said the statement.

The ministry also called on other countries in the region and international community to avoid from recognizing the referendum initiative.

“We stress one more time that we will take every measure that emanates from the international law and from the authority granted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, in the event that some radical elements and terrorists, which may seek to exploit the circumstances that will emerge following the referendum, attempt to carry out acts that target our national security,” added the ministry.

Turkish foreign ministry on Monday has also issued a travel warning to Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) provinces of Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah extending a previous travel warning to Iraq. The statement said the instability which will be caused by the referendum could lead some radical groups and terrorists to target Turkey’s interests and Turkish citizens in Iraq and in KRG provinces.

The ministry strongly advised Turkish citizens in the Iraqi Kurdish provinces to leave as quickly as possible due to potential conflicts, security problems and instability in the wake of the referendum.

Meanwhile, denying allegations of closing the Habur border gate into northern Iraq, Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bülent Tüfekçi said on Monday only security check have been increased. Previous reports claimed that Turkey closed the border gate with Iraq’s Kurdistan and prohibited entry into Turkey while allowing exits.

Tüfekçi stated that the Habur border gate was not closed but strict controls were imposed.
Increased security checks came as a response to the independence referendum held by Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Sunday declared the vote for independence to be held on Sept. 25 by KRG “null and void.”

“Turkey will not welcome any changes of status or new entities on the southern border. The referendum that will be held tomorrow in northern Iraq is illegitimate, null and void,” said Yıldırım during a party meeting in Ankara.

The Turkish Parliament held an extraordinary session on Saturday and approved a motion to extend another one year a mandate to conduct cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq as tensions increase in the region ahead of the referendum.

Tehran on Monday has declared that it closed border gates to crossings from Iraq’s Kurdistan region which is holding an independence referendum despite opposition from neighboring countries including İran. Following a request from Baghdad, Iran on Sunday announced a halt of air traffic to and from Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Monday said they also closed border gates to Kurdish region of Iraq. Qassemi added that Iranian government will make a statement regarding other measures against Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) on Sunday closed Iran’s airspace and air border to the Iraqi Kurdish region, SNSC spokesman Keyvan Khosravi said. He said that Iran took the decision because the KRG did not cancel the referendum despite many requests by Iraq and Iran. Based on the decision, all flights to Sulaymaniyah and Arbil airports as well as transit flights from Iraqi Kurdistan through Iran’s air zone are halted, Khosravi added.

Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have also launched air operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq’s Zap and Avaşin-Basyan regions on Monday. According to a statement issued by TSK, air operations were launched on Sunday against PKK camps in northern Iraq and shelters, arms and ammunition stores of militants were destroyed.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with jailed PKK chief Abdullah Öcalan for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been heavy clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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