ISTANBUL - Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Iraqi Kurdish authorities would pay the price for an independence referendum which was widely opposed by foreign powers.
Iraq’s Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in Monday’s referendum, defying neighboring countries which fear the vote could fuel Kurdish separatism within their own borders and lead to fresh conflict.
“They are not forming an independent state, they are opening a wound in the region to twist the knife in,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum.
Erdogan has built strong commercial ties with Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq, which pump hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil daily through Turkey for export to world markets.
“We don’t regret what we did in the past. But since the conditions are changed and the Kurdish Regional Government, to which we provided all support, took steps against us, it would pay the price,” he said.