Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meets with Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General Jan Kubis in New York on September 18. Photo: AA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Regarding the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum scheduled for September 25, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that the United Nations and Ankara can “be guarantors of their rights.”
“Turkey and other countries that the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] can name, together we can be mediators, we can even be guarantors of their rights,” the FM told Al-Monitor in an interview on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday.
Cavusoglu was asked about Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Ankara’s hardline stance opposing the referendum set to take place on September 25 (Monday) and what Turkey believes is the United Nations’ role.
Yildirim said on Saturday that the referendum is “a matter of national security” to Turkey and that no one should cast doubt that Ankara “will take all necessary steps on this matter.”
The FM clarified: “He actually meant that the UN, as the umbrella organization, should stop this referendum. And the UN Security Council can play an important role.”
The referendum “might even cause a civil war and other turbulences and instability in the country and in the region,” said the Turkish diplomat.
Cavusoglu expressed that Turkey, in addition to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, “are all against this referendum, and we all support the territorial integrity of the country first.”
Cavusoglu and his Kurdish counterpart Falah Mustafa met in New York on Monday.
“They, along with some other countries, are engaged with presenting another alternative so that Kurdistan postpones its referendum,” Mustafa told Rudaw.
Envoys from the United Nations, United Kingdom and United States visited President Masoud Barzani and other officials in the Kurdistan Region last week, where they emphasized opposition to the referendum and presented an “alternative” to the referendum, which hasn’t been publicly disclosed.
On Monday, British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon called on Barzani to delay the September 25 independence referendum and focus on dialogue with the central government “under the supervision of the international community,” according to a Kurdish-language statement from the presidency’s office.
It reiterated that Erbil will go on with the referendum if there are not international guarantees.
“[T]he referendum will not be delayed only for the sake of holding talks with Baghdad without knowing the content of these talks or knowing what international guarantees they will have,” the Kurdish statement read.
Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), indicated at a pro-referendum rally in Amedi on Friday evening that he refused the offer.
“To this date, we have not received an alternative that can take the place of the referendum,” Barzani said.
Also on Monday, a senior Kurdish official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that they believe the Kurdish leadership should take the alternative offered by the tripartite “very seriously."
”We from the PUK believe that the alternative should be taken very seriously,” Mala Bakhtiyar told reporters in Sulaimani.