Bekir Bozdag says northern Iraq's Masoud Barzani administration should declare last month's illegitimate referendum invalid
Turkey’s deputy prime minister on Thursday urged Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani to nullify the illegitimate northern Iraq referendum held late last month.
"The Barzani administration should declare that the referendum is annulled and has no validity for them," Bekir Bozdag told a ceremony marking the new school year at Istanbul’s Aydin University.
Bozdag said Barzani should also declare that he has nothing in mind besides protecting Iraq's territorial integrity.
"He should start negotiations with the Iraqi government without any preconditions to solve the dispute between them," he stressed.
"Turkey interprets what is going on in Iraq as a direct threat to its own national security," he added.
He said Turkey, Iran and Iraq will all follow closely developments in the region with the support of the international community and will not allow new conflicts to arise.
On Sept. 25, Iraqis in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-held areas -- and in several areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil -- voted on whether to declare independence from Iraq.
According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.
The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, many warning that it would distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the already-volatile region.