(Reuters) The head of Turkey’s nationalist opposition said on Thursday a planned independence referendum by Kurds in northern Iraq should be viewed by Ankara as a reason for war “if necessary”.
Turkey, which is battling a three-decade Kurdish insurgency in its southeast, is concerned the referendum could further stoke separatist sentiment among the 15 million Kurds in Turkey.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Iraq, where he conveyed to Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani Ankara’s concerns about the decision to hold the referendum, planned for Sept. 25.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli, who allied with the government in supporting the ruling AK Party’s campaign in April’s referendum on boosting President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, called on Ankara to oppose the vote.
“A position must be taken to the end against Barzani’s preparation for an independence referendum which incorporates Turkmen cities,” Bahceli told a news conference in Ankara.