By A. Eda Ünlü Özen
Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Sunday termed a planned independence referendum in northern Iraq as "illegitimate".
"Any status change, any new formation on the southern frontiers of Turkey will never be tolerated," Yildirim said while speaking at ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's ordinary district congress meeting in the capital’s Mamak district.
Describing the referendum as "null and void", he said that Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) would be responsible for the possible developments after the referendum.
"This referendum will not solve any problems of the Kurdish Regional Government. This referendum will not resolve any issues between the central government in Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government," he said.
Instead, Yildirim said, the referendum would further "fuel existing instability, authority gap and chaos in the region”.
Iraqi Kurds in provinces controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq are set to head to polls on Monday to vote in a controversial referendum on whether to secede from Iraq.
Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
KRG’s leader, Masoud Barzani, has said a “Yes” vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.