Turkish PM says fait accompli over Iraq’s Kirkuk flag controversy not acceptable
ISTANBULAttempts to make the raising of the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk a fait accompli are unacceptable, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said late April 1, voicing support for Baghdad’s decision not to permit such flags in the city.
“We are supporting the Iraqi government on this issue,” Yıldırım said during a televised interview on CNN Türk on April 1. “If need be, we can enter dialogue with the U.N. and other institutions,” he added.
The prime minister said he discussed the issue with his Iraqi counterpart, Haider al-Abadi, on March 31.
“We do not accept a fait accompli. We think a decision like this, which aims to change the demographic makeup of Kirkuk, is not correct. This is clearly against the Iraqi constitution,” Yıldırım said.
Members of the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted on March 28 in favor of raising the KRG flag over official buildings during a meeting that was boycotted by Turkmen and Arabs.
On April 1, the Iraqi Parliament voted against the decision of the Kirkuk Provincial Council.
During the session, the Iraqi government stressed that only the flag of Iraq should fly over state buildings in the province.
The motion by the Iraqi parliament was requested by Kirkuk Turkmens, who are against the raising of the Kurdish flag.
Kurdish lawmakers boycotted the parliament session, and lawmakers voted to bring down the KRG flag over all governmental buildings in Kirkuk.
“We left the parliament session after tensions erupted over the Kurdistan flag decision,” said a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament, Bakhtyar Shawais.
Speaking to NRT, another Kurdish MP, Shwan Dawdy, said the parliament vote would not affect the Kirkuk council’s decision to fly the KRG flag alongside the Iraqi flag, as “it is just a measure, not a bill.”
Turkey on March 29 warned against “unilateral steps” after the Kirkuk council’s decision, saying it was opposed to flying the flag because it does not want to encourage any change in the composition of Kirkuk, which is also home to Turkmens.
Kirkuk is at the center of a long-running dispute over northern territory that KRG authorities want to incorporate into their autonomous region, a move the federal government in Baghdad opposes.
Kirkuk is home to various religious and ethnic communities, some of which – notably Arabs and Turkmen – do not want to see the province under permanent Kurdish control.