Nechirvan Barzani speaks at a weekly press conference in Erbil on March 4, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani expressed that Iraq was founded after 2003 on the basis of partnership and the budget passed on Saturday did not underscore that.
The premier said at a press conference on Sunday it was "unfortunate" that the Iraqi bill was approved without meeting Kurdish demands because they reflect the government and the people.
The work of the Kurdish blocs in Baghdad was "appreciated" by Barzani.
“I want to thank all Kurdish factions for their attempts recently to guarantee Kurdish share in the budget,” he said, while promising to speak with all Kurdish parties and MPs.
“Despite all the internal issues in Kurdistan, all Kurds in Baghdad strived for Kurdistan's interests,” Barzani said.
He stressed that he believes dialogue is the only way to resolve pending issues and he remains "hopeful."
“I am in constant contact with Prime Minister [Haider al-Abadi] to resolve issues,” said Barzani.
He expressed that the Kurdistan Region has sought to build an inclusive Iraq, not one based on majority rule that marginalizes other components.
Iraq was founded on partnership, according to Barzani, it was founded on the basis that constitution would decide everything.
Barzani said the KRG wants issues to be resolved through dialogue and constitution, and Kurdish people are expecting Iraqi President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, to have a stance in protecting the constitutional rights of Kurds.
He also pledged to pay the salaries of civil servants whatever the cost.
“We will continue [to work] with Baghdad concerning these matters. Our main goal for continuing [this relationship] is to obtain the requirements of the region and the citizens of the Kurdistan Region. We have established this as a principle. We will distribute salaries from the revenues we have and what we receive, regardless of how much it is,” said Barzani.
“Baghdad is not owned by the people currently there. Baghdad is ours as well. Why should we behave as though Baghdad is owned by a political party or a certain component? We have to play a role in Baghdad. We have to have a political role in Baghdad. If we do reach an impasse, we have to let the people of Kurdistan know.
“We are committed to this partnership, but how committed is Baghdad to the partnership? The budget bill demonstrates that Baghdad is not committed to partnership, unfortunately.”
a budget bill on Saturday that doesn't meet the needs of the KRG.
Sunni MPs participating in the session allowed for a quorum with the Shiite-dominated parliament, which their Kurdish counterparts see as a political coup, but could be an “opportunity.”
Kurds claim their share is neither sufficient nor fair and have a list of demands, namely on receiving their 17-percent share of the budget.
A State of Law bloc MP said at a press conference in Baghdad that the Kurdistan Region’s “dream” of restoring its 17-percent budget share “will not come true.”
Barzani highlighted the contradicting position of the United States.
"If I see them, I am going to tell them: 'In the statement you issued saying we want a strong Kurdistan Regional Government to exist, just define it for me. What does a strong Kurdistan Regional Government mean?' " he said.
The US State Department policy is “a strong KRG within a unified and federal Iraq is essential to its long-term stability."
Barzani added: "I am going to tell them this, 'Is it right and matching the policy you are pursuing now. Is there really a strong regional government or not?' "
The 2018 budget dispute was the latest chapter in what has been the new Iraq.
“This was not the Iraq we wanted after 2003," said Barzani.
Last updated at 5 p.m.