Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday announced possible assistance to Baghdad for protecting Iraq’s territorial integrity if such a request was made to Turkey, APA reports quoting Anadolu.
Cavusoglu's remarks came after Monday’s non-binding referendum on independence in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-controlled areas across northern Iraq, including areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.
In an interview aired live on 24 TV news network, the foreign minister said: "Saying 'we support Iraq's territorial integrity' is not a statement in vain. If Iraq appeals to Turkey with such a request, we will provide support to Iraq for protecting its territorial integrity."
He said Turkey's operations against PKK terrorist targets in Iraq was a right under international law. "However, an invitation by the host country is needed for a country to conduct military intervention there. In that respect, we will engage primarily with the Baghdad administration."
He also warned the countries expressing support for the KRG-backed referendum.
Cavusoglu also reiterated Turkey's support for the northern Iraqi Turkmen if they were threatened.
The minister also dismissed claims about closure of Turkey's Habur border gate with northern Iraq, but said some necessary steps had been taken.
"If Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] representatives were here in Turkey, we would tell them to leave the country. Since they are in Erbil, we told them to not come to Turkey," he said.
He pointed out the KRG did not listen to advice from Turkey.
"The KRG made promises to us, especially [Masoud] Barzani. He told us that 'what other countries say does not matter to us, only Turkey matters. We will listen to Turkey's advices.' But we are now seeing that they did not listen to us."