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Ankara Using Energy Agreements to Stop Kurdish Independence Referendum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An Iraqi man prints a flag of Kurdistan, in Erbil, on 8 June 2017. (AFP)

Ankara – Ankara announced on Thursday that the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s insistence to hold an independence referendum will harm cooperation in the energy sector with Turkey.

Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak said during a television interview that the “whole of northern Iraq” will pay the price for the Kurdish region’s decision to go to polls.

Going back on the decision to hold the referendum will be a “safe step,” he added.

The government of the autonomous region of Kurdistan had announced in June that it will hold an independence referendum on September 25, ignoring warnings from several countries, including Turkey, that this will spark a dispute with Baghdad.

President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani voiced on Wednesday his commitment to holding the vote on time, adding that Baghdad failed to establish real partnership with the Kurds.

The decision to hold the referendum was issued by the political leadership in the autonomous region and not a single party, he stressed.

Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan signed an energy agreement in 2014 that sees energy resources extracted from Kurdistan travel through neighboring Turkey towards the European Union. The agreement is valid for 50 years.

Ankara fears that the referendum will result in the formation of a Kurdish entity that will merge with Kurdish-controlled regions in Syria and later Kurdish regions in Iran and Turkey to form what is known as Greater Kurdistan.