Baghdad and Arbil have requested Turkey’s mediation after tensions between the central government and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) soared over the latter’s September 2017 independence referendum, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.
“There are mediation requests. We will go to Baghdad on Jan. 21. We will discuss this in addition to the bilateral topics,” Çavuşoğlu told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency on Jan. 10.
He said the referendum step pushed by KRG President Masoud Barzani was “wrong,” adding that “both the Iraqi Kurdish government and its people have seen this reality.”
“In the coming period, Baghdad and Arbil need to reach an agreement. The recent statement by Arbil that it will comply with the decisions of the Iraqi Constitutional Court is a positive step, but a clear consensus must be reached here,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Ankara would “do its best to reach this end.”
“If you live in a country then you accept the laws of that country and its constitution,” he added, noting that the Iraqi Kurds “received support from Turkey for using their constitutional rights.”
He said that the KRG has formally asked Turkey to contribute to “normalization” between Arbil and Baghdad.
“Our desire is to overcome these problems as soon as possible in the framework of Iraq’s territorial integrity. After such normalization, after Arbil accepts this, we will not have a problem there [in the KRG],” the foreign minister added.
In the immediate aftermath of the KRG’s Sept. 25, 2017 referendum, in which voters overwhelming supported secession from Iraq, federal forces moved into parts of Iraq “disputed” between the central government and the KRG, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province. Baghdad, meanwhile, continues to demand the annulment of the referendum result.