Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the press on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday. Photo: Patrik Stollarz | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday described the move towards holding an independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region as a mistake and said they support the territorial integrity of Iraq.
On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany's Hamburg city, Erdogan said that they do not support the disintegration of Iraq’s territory. He also said the move will pave the way to the disintegration of Arabs and Turkmen in Iraq, too.
He said they had asked Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to support the territorial integrity of Iraq.
He stressed if Iraq remains as integrated and preserves its sovereignty, it will be strong.
Erdogan who is also leader of the Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has stood against the Kurdish independence bid on many other occasions in the past.
"Well on this referendum in Erbil, I did not happen to think it's the right thing to do,” he told France24 in an interview earlier this week in response to a question about whether Turkey was opposed to the referendum itself or its timing.
“And when it comes to this, we actually shared our opinion with a local government in northern Iraq. Because the local administration in northern Iraq will regret this if they go ahead with it.” Erdogan said.
"[Kurdish President Masoud] Barzani and the local administration in northern Iraq aren't ready for this at this point,” Erdogan claimed.
In the historical June 7th meeting, September 25 was designated as the day to vote for an independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region and “Kurdistani areas outside the Kurdistan Region administration” most notably the city of Kirkuk populated by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen.
President Masoud Barzani is to visit Brussels heading a high-level Kurdish delegation to discuss the referendum on independence, after he met with the committee tasked with overseeing and making preparations for the referendum today, excluding the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Change Movement (Gorran) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal), a senior Kurdish official told Rudaw.
Erdogan also expressed his concerns over what he described as the Hashd al-Shaabi’s expansions in northern Iraq, believing their moves will also break Iraq into pieces.