In a statement released by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) was criticized over plans to release a commemorative stamp, in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the KRG within the past week, which includes a background map of an alleged greater Kurdish state. The foreign ministry regarded the image as an abuse of the Pope’s intentions of visiting the region in an attempt to further unrealistic aspirations against the territorial integrity of neighboring states. The statement also adds that similar endeavors have led to disappointing outcomes in the past.
On March 7, Pope Francis, who had traveled to Iraq two days earlier to visit Christian minorities in the country as well as Shia leader Ali Al-Sistani, visited the city of Erbil to meet with senior officials and the leader of the KRG, and to hold prayers with locals.
Previously on Tuesday, the KRG’s Minister of Transportation and Communication Ano Abdoka indicated that the design of the commemorative stamp was not final and that the ministry’s work always respects the sovereignty of Iraq within the framework of the national constitution. Furthermore, the minister also expressed that none of the proposed stamp designs were accepted until then, as they awaited legal procedures.
Apart from Turkey, Iraqi Prime Minister Alia Nassif and the Iranian Foreign Ministry also released statements after the release of the commemorative stamps criticizing the design of the specific stamp concerned. In this regard, Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, has called on the KRG to immediately step back from its unfriendly act against Iran’s territorial integrity.