World Bulletin / News Desk
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel criticized the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) for holding a referendum on the region’s future without the agreement of the central government of Iraq, and despite continued warnings from the international community.
“The referendum has no binding effect, particularly with respect to the disputed territories,” he said in a statement, referring to the ongoing row between Erbil and Baghdad on contested areas, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is outside the autonomous Kurdish region.
“We are calling on all sides to avoid further escalation and to refrain from unilateral steps towards independence or coercive measures,” he added.
Gabriel called for dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to address the problems between the KRG and Iraq’s central government.
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.
Russia on Tuesday reiterated it supports the territorial integrity of states in the Middle East.
"Russia's position has not changed: We continue to believe that preserving the territorial and political integrity of states is extremely important for maintaining stability and security in the region," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russia's official TASS news agency.
Peskov said President Vladimir Putin discussed the recent referendum with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani by phone on Monday.
Putin and Erdogan will meet on Thursday in the Turkish capital Ankara, where they are expected to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments.
The EU also confirmed on Tuesday its full support for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
"It therefore appealed for the referendum not to be held in this unilateral manner, and especially not in disputed areas. It regrets that these calls have not been heeded," the bloc said in a statement.
The EU called on all parties to exercise calm and to make a renewed commitment to resolve all pending issues across the political and economic spectrum through peaceful and constructive dialogue within the framework of the Iraqi constitution.
It said Iraqi unity is "essential" to face the remaining threat of Daesh, adding: "The EU stands ready to support such a dialogue."
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