KRG will pay the price, Erdoğan says over independence referendum
“We never regret what we have done in the past, but now the circumstances have changed, the northern Iraqi regional government which we have been giving all kinds of support for a long time, has taken a step in spite of our country. So, they will pay the price,” Erdoğan said in a speech during provincial advisory meeting in the eastern province of Erzurum.
Erdoğan also said the rights of Arabs and Turkmens were of outmost importance, and stressed that the vote ignored the wishes of these minorities in the region.
The president underlined that that Turkey is in close contact with neighboring states, including Iran and the Iraqi central government, and ready for negative developments in the region.
"We cannot accept a referendum that was carried out in an atmosphere where people were forced to immigrate," Erdoğan said, adding that the KRG's aim to establish an independent state would only lead to a "bleeding wound."
“At this moment, we have informed our neighboring countries including Iran, the central government [of Iraq] and the Syrian side, that we are ready [to take steps] against the negative developments [in the KRG],” he said.
“It is not possible for us to accept a referendum held in a climate that is created by burning houses and buildings and forced displacement,” the president added.
The referendum in northern Iraq had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors, many of whom had warned that the poll would further destabilize the Middle East.