Ankara ready to support Baghdad in ensuring Iraq's integrity| MENAFN.COM

Friday, 12 August 2022 09:48 GMT

Ankara ready to support Baghdad in ensuring Iraq's integrity

(MENAFN- AzerNews) By Kamila Aliyeva

Ankara is ready to support Baghdad in the matter of ensuring the territorial integrity of Iraq, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said commenting on the independence referendum held in Kurdistan.

"We support the territorial integrity of Iraq not just in words. If the Iraqi authorities appeal to Ankara with the corresponding call, we will support efforts to protect the unity of the neighboring country," he said, Turkish media outlets reported.

The Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG)held a controversial independence referendum in northern Iraq, including areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, on September 25. Although the final results are expected within three days, bulk of the voters reportedly said 'Yes.

Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.

Commenting on the possibility of the operation of the Turkish Armed Forces in Iraq, the minister noted that Ankara will proceed to actions in case of a relevant appeal by the Iraqi authorities.

"If Baghdad calls on Turkey to act, we will use the right based on international law. The position of the official Iraqi authorities is the main thing for Ankara," Cavusoglu said.

The minister emphasized that Turkey warned the countries about the inadmissibility of attempts to recognize the results of the September 25 referendum in the north of Iraq.

"Ambassadors of the countries-permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as the ambassadors of Germany and Saudi Arabia were invited to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and informed about Ankara's position," the minister said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry previously said that results of the referendum are "null and void".The Ministry added that the National Security Council has already outlined the sanctions to be imposed on the Kurdish region, which were later agreed by the Cabinet. It also extended a travel ban for Turkish citizens to Iraq's Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah provinces.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday that the United States does not support a referendum on independence in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recently communicated with representatives of both sides, according to Nauert.

"We expressed our deep fears, we consider it as a unilateral referendum, and I do not think that any member of the international coalition against ISIS supported it," she added.

The representative of the State Department also stressed that the United States "supports a unified democratic Iraq."

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said that Kurds had voted 'yes to independence in a referendum held in defiance of the central government in Baghdad and which had displeased their neighbors and their U.S. allies.

Barzani earlier threatened war if the central government in Baghdad interferes with the holding of the referendum. He later added that a 'Yes vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.

Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East although they have never obtained a permanent nation state. In Iraq they make up an estimated 15-20 percent of the population of 37 million. Kurds acquired autonomy following the 1991 Gulf War.

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