Iran, Iraq, Turkey Warn Kurdistan against Holding Referendum

Foreign ministers of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey in a joint statement have urged the Iraqi Kurdistan region to either call off its independence referendum or expect counter-measures by its neighbours.

Following a trilateral meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari in New York, the three sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq.

They expressed their concern that the planned referendum by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is scheduled for September 25, 2017, puts Iraq’s hard-earned gains against ISIS under great risk.

They further expressed their concern that the planned KRG referendum is unconstitutional and runs the risk of provoking new conflicts in the region, that will prove difficult to contain.

In their statement, the three sides:

Registered their unequivocal opposition to the referendum; decided to urge the leadership of the KRG to refrain from holding the referendum; emphasized that the referendum will not be beneficial for Kurds and the KRG; agreed, in this regard, to consider taking counter-measures in coordination; and recognised that constructive dialogue within the Iraqi constitution is the only way forward to address the issues between Baghdad and Erbil.

They also stressed the importance of support of Turkey and Iran to resolve and contain this escalation, reiterated the need for concerted international efforts to convince the KRG on calling off the referendum, and renewed their call on the international community to remain engaged on the issue.

The top diplomats further welcomed the recent liberation of the Nineveh Governorate, which constituted a major victory against ISIS, and acknowledged the perseverance, commitment and resolve of the people of Iraq as a whole in fighting ISIS.

They also stressed the importance of keeping the focus on liberating the remaining areas that are still under ISIS control, and underscored the importance of post-ISIS stabilization efforts to achieve lasting security and stability in Iraq.

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