Turkey slams KRG over stamp claiming offends its territorial integrity
The commemorative papal postage stamp depicts the Pope Francis's visit to the Kurdistan Region with the Kurdistan Great map above it. Graphic by Zhyan News Network
Zhyan News Network
SULAIMANI – Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz slammed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over a recommended commemorative postage stamp recently publicized for the historic papal visit to the Kurdistan Region depicting a portrait of Pope Francis with the Kurdistan Great map.
On March 7 during Francis's tour in the Kurdistan Region, KRG Minister of Transportation and Communications Ano Abdoka tweeted that his ministry issued six postage stamps for the papal visit, one of which included the one that has irked the Turkey.
“Some leaders of the administration of the Kurdish region in Iraq, who go beyond their borders, try to use this visit to reveal their empty dreams about the territorial integrity of the countries neighboring Iraq,” Yildiz tweeted, alleging the recommended stamp offended his country’s territorial integrity.
“The authorities of the administration of the Kurdish region in Iraq must remember how such malicious ambitions ended in failure,” he said, hinting at the aborted 2017 Kurdistan Region independence Referendum.
Following the ill-fated referendum led by Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader and former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani , Turkey closed down its airspace for flights to and from the Kurdistan Region.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Turkish foreign ministry strongly criticized KRG over its “controversial attempt to print a commemorative stamp to mark Pope Francis' visit”, and called on the KRG to "immediately reverse the grave mistake."
Yildiz and his foreign ministry asked for a clarification from the KRG.
In a statement viewed to soften Turkey’s anger, KRG spokesperson Jotiar Adil said that no designs had been approved for printing stamps for the papal visit.
“Designs chosen for printing stamps are on basis of law and constitution. Artists have proposed some deigns for stamps,” Adil said.
Hours later, Iran also condemned the KRG for the same purpose, alleging the stamp has trespassed on its international borders.
"It is clear that what has been published in public is against international principles and rules," Foreign Ministryspokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters, according
to the Iranian state-owned ISNA. "The Islamic Republic of Iran, while protesting to the Iraqi government on this issue, has called for the collection and immediate correction of this unfriendly act."
Turkey and Iran fear any secessionist move by Kurds are threats to their territorial integrity.
Pope Francis, which is the highest cleric in the Catholic denomination, visited the Kurdistan Region’s capital city of Erbil and several cities containing Christians in the last leg of his three-day trip through Iraq on Sunday and held a mass at Franso Hariri football stadium with the attendance of over 10,000 spectators.
*This story was updated at 10:05 pm EBL