News ID: 189993
Published: 0926 GMT March 29, 2017

Turkish FM slams decision to fly Kurdish flag in Kirkuk

Turkish FM slams decision to fly Kurdish flag in Kirkuk

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has criticized a decision in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to hoist the Kurdish flag over government buildings and public places.

The remarks came a day after the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted in favor of a motion to fly the regional flag on public buildings in the province. Most Arab and Turkmen boycotted the vote.

“We don’t approve of the voting held by the regional administration,” Cavusoglu said in an interview with the state-run TRT Haber television news network in Ankara on Wednesday.

“Such a step will not help Iraq’s future, stability and security at a time when Iraq is fighting Daesh. We don’t support this step and we want everyone to act responsibly,” he added.

The oil-rich Kirkuk province is part of the disputed areas claimed by the Kurds and both Arabs and Turkomans. The Kurds want to incorporate Kirkuk into their semi-autonomous region, but the central Iraqi government is fiercely opposed to the move.  

The top Turkish diplomat argued that “it would not be correct to change that region's ethnic composition,” noting that “fait accompli” or “unilateral steps” would bring no benefit.

Kirkuk, located 236 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad, lies in a zone with an enormously diverse population that has been multilingual for centuries.

Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs and Assyrians lay conflicting claims to the region, and all have their historical accounts and memories to buttress their claims.

Turkey's criticism came a day after Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi condemned the Kurdish move, saying it would encourage change in the composition of Kirkuk and lead to friction between local communities.

“Such an act is incongruous with national unity in Kirkuk, and conflicts with the spirit of understanding and solidarity among city residents,” Nujaifi said in a statement.

The United Nations has also warned that the decision to fly the Kurdish flag over the Kirkuk citadel could inflame ethnic tensions.



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