‘Owners of that flag are separatists’ Erdogan says on KRG flag in Kirkuk

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he is against the raising of the Kurdistan Region flag in the city of Kirkuk in Iraq.

Speaking to crowds in the city of Zonguldak ahead of a referendum on expanding presidential powers in Turkey, Erdogan said, “The owners of that flag should know that they are acting like separatists. I call upon the Kurdistan Regional Government to turn back from this mistake at once.”

Tensions have been rising over the hoisting of the Kurdistan region (KRG)’s flag in government buildings in Kirkuk city, northern Iraq, as neighbouring countries have all got involved in the debate.

The flag was raised in official places alongside the Iraq flag on 20 March during Kurdish Newroz festivities. Kirkuk governor Najmadin Karim defended the decision saying it was permitted by the Iraqi constitution.

Iran has also expressed concern as its Foreign Ministry on Monday said that the hoisting of any flag outside Iraq’s national flag in Kirkuk was contrary to the country’s constitution and would raise tensions.