Turkey calls for referendum to be cancelled, not postponed, says deputy prime minister.
A Kurdish independence referendum is illegitimate and poses a direct threat to Turkey's national security and Iraq's territorial integrity and national unity, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said late Friday.
The statement by Bekir Bozdag came after a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential complex in Ankara.
Bozdag also emphasized that Turkey is calling for the referendum to be cancelled, not postponed.
"We are also against its postponement. Postpone means to allow it to happen in the future. This referendum must be canceled in a way that will not be repeated again," he added.
Earlier Friday, Turkey’s National Security Council warned northern Iraq against holding a referendum on independence, saying such a move would create “grave results”.
“Turkey reserves all options arising from bilateral and international agreements if the Kurdish regional referendum is held,” the council said.
It called on the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to cancel the referendum and search for solutions in line with Iraq’s Constitution.
“Turkey is ready to mediate between Iraq’s central government and the Kurdish regional administration to resolve disputes on a constitutional basis and through dialogue.”
The non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad -- vote whether to declare full independence from Iraq.
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.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
KRG’s leader, Masoud Barzani, has said a “Yes” vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.