Erdogan to Iraqi Kirkuk Province's Authorities: 'Lower Your Kurdistan Banners'

© AFP 2022 / Marwan IBRAHIMThe Kurdish and Iraqi flag sway in the wind as a bonfire burns during the Noruz spring festival celebrations in the northern city of Kirkuk, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Baghdad on March 20, 2017
The Kurdish and Iraqi flag sway in the wind as a bonfire burns during the Noruz spring festival celebrations in the northern city of Kirkuk, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Baghdad on March 20, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday asked the administration of the Iraqi province of Kirkuk to remove the flags of Iraqi Kurdistan and to hoist up Iraqi banners instead.

ANKARA (Sputnik) — According to media reports, the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted in late March to raise the Kurdistan flag, with Turkmen and Arab members of the body boycotting the vote.

"We in Turkey do not agree that Kirkuk belongs to the Kurds. Kirkuk belongs to the Turkmens, Arabs and Kurds, all of them… Lower your flags immediately and put back the Iraqi ones," Erdogan said at a rally at the Turkish city of Zonguldak.

The president added that the failure to put back up the Iraqi flags might result in the degradation of the province's relationship with Turkey.

Masked Kurdish forces, loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, stand guard at the North Oil Company headquarters in the northern Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk on March 2, 2017 - Sputnik International
Iraqi Kirkuk Once Again 'Driving Wedge' Between Baghdad and Kurdish Erbil
Earlier on Tuesday, the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper reported that the Kirkuk Provincial Council decided to hold a referendum on the status of the province in a session that was boycotted by Turkmen and Arab members.

Baghdad claims the control of the province, but the Kurds want it to join the Kurdistan autonomous region in the north of Iraq.

Turkey is also home to a significant Kurdish ethnic minority.

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