Turkish Official Objects to İndependence Referendum for Kurdistan Region
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top aide İbrahim kalın has said a referendum for the people’s future in the Kurdistan Region would be a “wrong step.” The remarks from İbrahim Kalin come a day after in Erbil, Kurdish President Masoud 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 think this [referendum] would be a wrong step,” İbrahim Kalin, the spokesperson to the Turkish presidency, said in a press conference on Friday.
“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,” He added that “Iraq is going through a fragile period and the fight against Daesh [ISIS] is ongoing, noting that Turkey’s fight against the Iraqi-based terrorist PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] is also continuing.”
The Kurdistan presidency confirmed in a statement that the issue of a referendum on independence had been raised during the Guterres-Barzani meeting on Thursday evening.
“About the future of Kurdistan Region President Barzani emphasized that in the near future, a referendum will be held so that the world will be aware of the wish and the decision of the people of Kurdistan regarding its future,” the statement read.
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.