TURKEY

Turkey vows to respond to Baghdad's call for support

TURKEY VOWS TO RESPOND TO BAGHDADS CALL FOR SUPPORT

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğluon Tuesday announced possible assistance to Baghdad for protecting Iraq's territorial integrity if such a request was made to Turkey.

Cavusoglu's remarks came after Monday's non-binding referendum on independence in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-controlled areas across northern Iraq, including areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

In an interview aired live on 24 TV news network, the foreign minister said: "Saying 'we support Iraq's territorial integrity' is not a statement in vain. If Iraq appeals to Turkey with such a request, we will provide support to Iraq for protecting its territorial integrity."

He said Turkey's operations against PKK terrorist targets in Iraq was a right under international law. "However, an invitation by the host country is needed for a country to conduct military intervention there. In that respect, we will engage primarily with the Baghdad administration."

He also warned the countries expressing support for the KRG-backed referendum.

Çavuşoğlualso reiterated Turkey's support for the northern Iraqi Turkmen if they were threatened.

The minister also dismissed claims about closure of Turkey's Habur border gate with northern Iraq, but said some necessary steps had been taken.

"If Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] representatives were here in Turkey, we would tell them to leave the country. Since they are in Erbil, we told them to not come to Turkey," he said.

He pointed out the KRG did not listen to advice from Turkey.

"The KRG made promises to us, especially [Masoud] Barzani. He told us that 'what other countries say does not matter to us, only Turkey matters. We will listen to Turkey's advices.' But we are now seeing that they did not listen to us."

- Israel's support for poll

He also highlighted that Turkey had no problem with Kurdish people. "If they remain within Iraqi territory and not try to split it, not create a threat to the region, then why would we have any problem with them?"

Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN have all spoken out against the poll; however, Israel has backed the move. Two weeks before the referendum, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for a Kurdish statehood.

About the Israeli move, Çavuşoğlusaid: "Israel's support alone will not be enough for the KRG. No one's support will be enough. No one will side with them the next day.

"Who sided with Saddam [Hussain] when he used chemical weapons? No one. Even then we hosted the Peshmerga here in Turkey.

"Barzani has risked the future of Kurds for his personal ambitions and desire to remain in power."

The minister also said the ongoing Syria crisis is one of the main topics of discussion in the upcoming face-to-face meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in capital Ankara.

"Together, we have made significant progress regarding Syria since last year with the Astana process... It would not be an honest approach if civilian sites or moderate opposition's locations are bombarded. Russia is the guarantor country here," he said.

About the election results in Germany, Çavuşoğlusaid the winner there is the "far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD)", which took an anti-immigration and anti-Islam line during the election campaign and managed to get into the federal parliament.

He said the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union, and the AfD were no different from each other, adding the main reason Turkey was targeted during the German election process was "populism".

He called for relations between Turkey and Germany to return to the way it used to be before.

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