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Turkish PM hints sanctions possible if Kurdistan pursues referendum

By Rudaw 15/9/2017
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. File photo: Adem Altan/AFP
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. File photo: Adem Altan/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey has hinted at plans to impose sanctions on the Kurdistan Region if it proceeds with the independence referendum on September 25, the prime minister has stated. 

“We don’t want to impose sanctions. But if we arrive at that point, there are steps that have already been planned that Turkey can take,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters in Ankara on Friday, according to Hurriyet Daily News. 

Yildirim said he was making a “friendly appeal” to Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani to cancel the planned vote, “while there is still time.”

He did not detail what possible sanctions were being considered. 

Good relations with Turkey are key to the Kurdistan Region’s economy. Kurdistan exports its oil through Turkey’s Ceyhan port. Turkey also buys oil and natural gas from Kurdistan.

In the first half of 2017, $5 billion worth of trade passed between Turkey and Kurdistan, a 20 percent increase over the same period the year before. 

Officials in Ankara have previously said they would not consider closing their borders with the landlocked Kurdistan Region, saying the referendum has no bearing on their trade.

"This is nothing to do with our trade with this Region," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a visit to Erbil in August. "We have been supporting the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] and the Kurdish brothers and sisters here in Iraq as well as others. So we have not put any condition and we do not want to come to this stage.”

While leaders in Europe and the US have called on the Kurdistan Region to postpone the vote, Turkish leaders want to see it cancelled. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a live TV broadcast that the referendum “is beyond abdication of reasons; this is critically political inexperience, there cannot be such an understanding of politics,” according to state-run Anadolu Agency. 

He said that Ankara will announce its official position after a September 22 meeting of its National Security Council, but stressed that Turkey would not allow Iraq’s territorial integrity to be threatened. 

Yildirim had similar words for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in a telephone call on Friday. He expressed Turkey’s support for all steps taken by Baghdad to preserve Iraq’s unity, detailed a statement from Abadi’s office. 

The two agreed to work together to prevent the referendum, according to Anadolu. 

The Kurdistan Region parliament voted on Friday evening to hold the referendum as planned on September 25. Earlier in the day, Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani said the vote would go ahead because no viable alternative had been presented, implying a rejection of a proposal from the US, UK, and UN to postpone the vote.


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Flaminco | 16/9/2017
Sanctions!? Lol ,we will sanction YOU you ugly turkey. Turkey is making billions on KRG every month not the other way around! We've endured hard times many times before and will do it again, you on the other hand cannot afford to loose that kind of income. Oh by the way, you can also kiss the oil deal and all your investments in KRG the past decade good bye :) the Iranians must be rubbing their hands dry when they hear of this
Kajik | 16/9/2017
Mr Yildrim. Can you really afford that? Turkish economy is the worst in decades. Turkish lira is already classified as junk. And how are you supposed to participate in rebuilding of Iraq, if you can't pass thru Kurdistan? What about all export to Kurdistan and thru Kurdistan to rest of Iraq? Let's not raise issues that will hurt you more then us. We can take sanctions. We lived with sanctions for more then an decade. How long can you live without our oil and gas?
pre-Boomer Marine brat | 16/9/2017
He HINTS that sanctions are POSSIBLE ??? ... Sounds like Yildirim has lost his b*lls ... The other possibility is that he never had any. That's very likely because his boss has been well-known for a decade for not being able to delegate power.
Jagerxin derashy | 16/9/2017
A friendly appeal? Who's you trying to kid with? It was only last month when you said turkey will not close its border with Kurdistan even if Kurdistan go ahead with referendum ? What has changed now ? Tow face Turks! Your friendly appeal! seems more like the threat to Kurdish nation!
Guest | 16/9/2017
"Yildirim said he was making a “friendly appeal” to Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani to cancel the planned vote...." Well, I would like to make my own “friendly appeal” to the Turkish PM: Please both you and your president go and hang yourselves tonight. This world will be a much better place without you.

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