Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani speaking to Rudaw. Photo: Rudaw
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani is hopeful that a recent meeting between him and the leadership of Gorran, set up by Salahaddin Bahadin, leader of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), will lead to mending the relationship between Gorran and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), he explained in an interview with Rudaw on Sunday.
Regarding relations with Baghdad, the prime minister would like to see his government and the federal one engage in serious discussions without the involvement of other players like Iran and Turkey. Kurdistan’s referendum and independence is an internal matter, he said, and must be respected as such.
Rudaw: You held a meeting today with the Change Movement (Gorran). The meeting has been described as important. How was it organized and what did you talk about?
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani: The meeting came from an initiative taken by Mr. Salahaddin Bahadin. In fact, he took the initiative. The meeting was very frank and upfront. We talked about all the questions recently existing in the Kurdistan Region. Generally speaking, the frank discussions, I think will become an important step in order for us to hold similar meetings in the future and, God willing, find solutions for things existing between Gorran and the KDP.
Mr. Nechirvan Barzani, what did you agree on in the meeting?
We more addressed the topics. Our suggestion was for these meetings to continue. From our side as the KDP, we showed the willingness to develop such meetings. So, we are waiting for Gorran as they are going to be holding their own meetings. We will have other meetings later in order to reach a mutual understanding.
Mr. Prime Minister, there was a meeting yesterday between Ayad Allawi and Osama al-Nujaifi with the president of the Kurdistan Region. Is there any development with Baghdad to reopen the airports or how that could happen?
It was the initiative taken and the statement issued as you saw. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) position is clear – after the referendum we want to begin serious talks with Baghdad. The meetings have to be in a way that no party suggests preconditions. Both sides should sit unconditionally at the negotiating table. In our opinion, this is the best solution.
Baghdad turning to other countries to assist them or making problems for the Kurdistan Region, be it Turkey or Iran, this is in no-one’s interest in our opinion. It is neither in the interest of Iraq nor in the Kurdistan Region, nor these countries. I think the best thing is that the prime minister of Iraq should understand that this is an Iraqi question and this is our question inside Iraq. The best solution is not turning to other countries to resolve the issues of Iraq. It would be much more beautiful and better for this question to be resolved internally, at the negotiating table in any form. We believe the president of Iraq will take an initiative next week to mobilize the Iraqi parties and we believe it will be a good opportunity for us to reach an outcome.
You are known for your ability to solve knotty problems. There is such a knot now with Turkey. What are you doing to untie it?
The knot is very tough and not easy to untie, but we have to gear up all our efforts for the relations to normalize as before. We have to explain to our neighbors that what we did in the Kurdistan Region, as we have said many times and emphasized and will be doing, came from our disappointment with Baghdad. We are not a threat to any of our neighbors, neither Turkey nor Iran. We want to maintain and make our friendly, economic, political, and social relations with the countries around us better. The question of the referendum is associated with Iraq. And we have to resolve this subject with Baghdad within the framework of Iraq. And we hope they assist us in order for us to resolve this question with Baghdad.
Less than a month is left before the elections. Are there possibilities the elections may be delayed?
As of now, the political parties have not agreed on that. We expect some meetings will be held, so decisions will be made on it later.