KRG land does not just belong to Kurds, Erdoğan says
Fikret Bila - ANKARAThe Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) region does not only accommodate Kurds, but also Turkmens and Arabs, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed on his way back from New York, when questioned about the planned independence referendum in the region.
“The steps to be taken will be finalized after evaluations [at the National Security Council meeting in Ankara]. We’ll see what will happen after we announce our decisions. But that land [KRG] does not just belong to Kurds. There are also Turkmens and Arabs living there. It is wrong for them to act as if they are the only ones there,” Erdoğan said on Sept. 22, asked if Turkey could close its borders to the KRG lands.
He emphasized that Sept. 22 and 23 are particularly important in terms of Ankara’s approach to the referendum, as the National Security Council (MGK) will convene and parliament will hold an extraordinary session on extending the mandate for the Turkish Armed Forces to operate across borders.
“They have blazed away a party center belonging to Turkmens there. We can see that some people have lost their direction,” Erdoğan said.
Asked about Israel’s vocal support for an independent KRG, Erdoğan said this attitude was “mistaken.”
“I explained this to Jewish institutions’ representatives who I met in New York. Israel needs to stay away from attitudes that will affect its relations in a negative way,” he added.
Asked why once warm relations between KRG President Massoud Barzani and the Turkish government had come to such a point, Erdoğan said Barzani is to blame.
“Barzani brought it to this point. We helped them when they were at a point of not being able to pay salaries to their civil servants. That was during my period as prime minister. We provided them with $2 billion in credit so that they could be able to pay the salaries of civil servants. But they do not know how to appreciate such gestures,” he added.
“Otherwise, we have nothing against them. Neither the U.S. nor Russia has helped [them] like we have,” he said.
Erdoğan was also questioned on whether U.S. President Donald Trump had addressed Washington’s stance on the referendum and the U.S.’s ongoing partnership with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, seen by Ankara as organically linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“He did not display a negative stance in the face of what we told him on this issue. He was not able to say anything about the dispatch of [U.S.] trucks [to PYD-held Syrian regions],” he said.