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Turkey: Erbil should declare referendum ‘null and void'

November 1, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin says results of last month’s KRG independence vote should be disregarded

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq should declare the result of last month’s independence referendum “null and void”, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference in the presidential complex in Ankara, Ibrahim Kalin said: “Everyone expects the Erbil administration to pronounce this [illegitimate] referendum null and void and move on.”

On 25 September, Iraqis in KRG-held areas — and in a number of disputed districts — voted on whether or not to declare regional independence from the Iraqi state.

According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 per cent of registered voters cast ballots in favour of independence.

Read: No talks until Kurds cancel referendum result

The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, with many warning it would distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Barzani announced on Sunday that he would not run in upcoming KRG presidential elections, which were recently postponed from 1 November to sometime next year.

A new tableau appears when the term of office of Masoud Barzani is not extended and [there is a] transfer of his duties to [KRG premier] Nechirvan Barzani,

Kalin said.

Barzani’s abrupt decision to step down appears to have led to a power vacuum within the KRG and it remains unclear who will assume executive authority upon his departure.

Any meeting between Nechirvan Barzani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would require some steps be taken by the KRG, Kalin said.

Turkey has previously insisted on maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity.

Turkey-Iraq border gates

The Turkish government announced on Tuesday that control of the Ibrahim Khalil border gate between Turkey and northern Iraq had been handed over to Baghdad.

“It is pleasing,” Kalin said, adding: “As a result, Turkey will not close the Habur border gate [on Turkey side of the border].”

The KRG handed over control to Iraqi forces following a Turkish-Iraqi joint military deployment to the border crossing earlier on Tuesday.

Read: Iraq readies to take control of Kurdish-Syria border

It is the main crossing between Turkey and Iraq.

Kalin also confirmed Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is planning a visit to the US but added more details would be given by Turkey’s prime minister.

The visit would come amid a row which was sparked on 8 October, when the US embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services to Turkish nationals.

This followed the arrest of a local employee at the US consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara.

Kalin insisted the crisis was not a “complicated” case and said it could be resolved in “a day”.