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No:181, 9 June 2017, Press Release Regarding the Decision to Organize Independence Referendum in the KRG on 25 September 2017

We have been conveying for some time Turkey’s concerns about the independence referendum, which the KRG has been planning to organize, to the Government of Iraq and the KRG as well to the leading members of the international community. In this regard, we have been stressing that at a time when critical developments are unfolding in the region, such a move would benefit neither the KRG nor Iraq and that it would have negative consequences which will cause further instability.

With the same understanding, we stated our belief that the decision of the Kirkuk Provincial Assembly, which had been endorsed upon the initiative of the Governor of Kirkuk, to raise the KRG flag throughout the official institutions in Kirkuk aimed fait accomplis about the status of the province and registered our objection to the said decision.

We see the KRG’s decision to hold the independence referendum on 25 September 2017, which runs counter to our advice and warnings, within the above-stated context and consider that it will be a grave mistake. Preserving Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity is one of the fundamental principles of Turkey’s Iraq policy. This principle is a prerequisite for lasting stability, peace, security and prosperity in the region.

The most important challenge that confronts Iraq, which has made significant strides in the fight against DEASH and appears close to success in this campaign, is to recover from the profound humanitarian, political, economic and social devastation that DEASH has inflicted and to achieve lasting stability by thoroughly rebuilding the country. The way to accomplish this is to continue the solidarity shown during the fight against DEASH after DEASH is defeated and to tackle every issue that concerns the future of the country within the framework of international and constitutional legitimacy. Furthermore, given the present extraordinary circumstances that the people of Iraq are in, it is obvious that a referendum which will also include the disputed territories will be far from reflecting the will of the people.

In this respect, instead of undermining Iraq’s territorial integrity, it is necessary to act with a spirit of reconciliation, dialogue and inclusiveness among all different elements constituting Iraq, by advancing the methods that will strengthen the unity and cohesion of the country and that depend on the principle of decentralization as well as on power and authority sharing which is enshrined in the Iraqi constitution.