EU Minister Omer Celik on Tuesday described the decision to include the disputed Iraqi city of Kirkuk in the recent Kurdish independence referendum as "Barzani's call to turn Iraq into a new bloodbath".
Celik's comments came during a live televised interview with Turkish channel A Haber in Ankara where he answered questions about the recent Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) referendum, considered null and void by Turkey.
"The referendum, contrary to what [KRG leader Masoud] Barzani claims, will not bring stability to the region nor be useful for Kurds’ future," Celik said. "It will be a blow, not just to Kurdish people, but to the other ethnic minorities willing to live together in Iraq."
The referendum, which was boycotted by Turkmens and Arabs, was held on Monday in Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah provinces, the contested province of Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu district in Saladin province and Khanaqin district in Diyala province.
Celik said the referendum was conducted "in an unhealthy way," and called it "a disaster".
"To include Kirkuk in the poll is another suggestion from Barzani to turn Iraq into another bloodbath," the EU minister said.
The final results of the controversial poll, in which roughly 72 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots, are expected within three days.
Earlier on Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would take political, economic, commercial and security steps against the KRG.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
Reporting by Meltem Bulur and Nazli