Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement today (26 September) on the referendum held yesterday in the Region of Kurdistan-Iraq and in parts of northern Iraq contested between Baghdad and Erbil:
It is unfortunate that the Government and President of the Region of Kurdistan-Iraq adhered to the plans to organise a referendum on independence. They made this decision without considering reservations and warnings and against the unanimous advice of the international community. The outcome of the referendum is not binding, particularly as regards designating the contested territories as being part of the Region of Kurdistan-Iraq.
We are aware that it was important to many Kurds to take part in the referendum. At the same time, we are gravely concerned that this step could further aggravate the unstable regional situation, which has become incomparably more difficult since yesterday.
We reiterate our calls on all sides to avoid any form of escalation and to refrain from taking unilateral steps towards independence or coercive measures. Outstanding questions between Erbil and Baghdad must be discussed and resolved through dialogue. We expect the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Government to exert a moderating influence on the local stakeholders. All neighbouring countries must help in this endeavour.
The joint fight against IS under the international coalition must continue to be the main priority. It cannot be in anyone’s interest to jeopardise the progress that has been achieved at such a high cost.
The Region of Kurdistan-Iraq would be well advised to restore the legitimacy of its institutions through elections on 1 November, as announced.