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Russian stance on referendum has empowered Kurds in talks with US, EU

By Rudaw 4/8/2017
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) exchanges documents with then Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in Moscow on February 11, 2008. File photo: Getty Images/Maxim Marmur
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) exchanges documents with then Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in Moscow on February 11, 2008. File photo: Getty Images/Maxim Marmur
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Russia’s ‘positive’ stance with regard to the Kurdish independence referendum has empowered the Kurds in their discussions and talks with other countries, such as the European Union and the United States, a Kurdish official told Rudaw in a recent interview.
Hoshyar Zebari, a member of the Kurdistan High Referendum Council said that the Russian view of the referendum, as expressed by its foreign minister, is very “positive” and “progressive.”
Rudaw published an exclusive interview with Russian Foreign Minister Segey Lavrov late last month in which he said that Kurds—like all other peoples in the world—had the right to express their aspirations and that the referendum they had decided to hold in September was the means to do so.
Lavrov also suggested that that process and its outcome must be implemented peacefully, adding that Moscow was willing to help both Baghdad and Erbil in a way that would respect both sides.
Zebari, who served as Iraq’s foreign and finance minister, said that the Kurdistan Region finds the Russian stance promising.
“It was very positive,” Zebari said when asked about Lavrov’s stance. 
Asked whether it will impact the decision of other countries, he said, “Very [much so], it had a very extraordinary impact. We [consider] it a very progressive stance.”
He said the remarks were “timely” and empowered the Kurds in explaining their position in their talks over the historic vote that is scheduled for September 25.
“It has impact on Europe, it has impact on the US,” he said.
A Kurdish delegation headed by President Masoud Barzani visited Brussels to rally support for the referendum in Europe in early July.
Zebari had earlier said that they were going to visit each permanent member of the UN Security Council, including the US and Russia, to discuss the referendum. 
He said that he read between the lines that Lavrov was doubtful that the referendum will be held, something he added the Kurdistan Region has to address with “practical steps.”
“If you followed his [Lavrov’s] remarks, I looked at it very carefully because I know him personally—we have been dealing with him for more than 10 years—even he, too, had doubts on whether it will be held. In this respect, we should remove the doubts from the minds of the people,” Zebari concluded.
Mala Bakhtiar, a senior Kurdish official and senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), stated on Thursday that Hungary and Belgium have already expressed their willingness to support the referendum. 
Turkey, Iran, and the Iraqi government have expressed their objection to the Kurdish plan.
The US, among others, has so far only suggested a change in the date of the referendum.



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roger | 4/8/2017
Surprise surprise that Turkey and Iran are not happy, given their treatment of those areas of Kurdistan in their countries and I imagine they are up to all types of pressure and bullying to get Baghdad to stop it
kardox | 4/8/2017
This statement is a wee bit out of political and diplomatic realms. Very much so especially at this moment of row and tension between US and Russia pertaining to the alleged Russian interfering in US presidential election which already rendered and ushered Trump administration into chaos and disarray. For any diplomat worth the title, it is highly risky and unknown charter to walk through to side with one party of the well-worldwide-known conflicts and feels empowered against the other contesting party. To be honest and realistic, people and leadership of South Kurdistan have not the political, military and economic potentials and is not in the position to play and be entangled in such a risky and dangerous game that rather sound more like an entrapment and the Kremlin’s way of dealing with beleaguered US administration at the present time.
Reber | 4/8/2017
It's not rocket science, Russia held a referundum in Crimea before annexing it, if they stand against Kurdish referundum they loose the last little credibility they have left on Crimea. Same reason certain other countries are cold towards Kurdish referendum, Spain is thinking og Catolonia, UK of Scotland, Canada of quibiec etc. It's all dirty politics nothing to do with people's right to choose
Carl | 4/8/2017
Russia sees and wants the region 40 million Kurds as a future partner, for now the American's are doing just enough not to push Kurds in Russias arms. The Kurdish approach of not favouring one over the other is very wise
Kurdo | 4/8/2017
Kurds should work with diffrent parts, but the west is the way to go. Russia is a dead meat in the long run. Russia rejected the war in Iraq 2003, that means KRG would never be this powerful today. Russia is however there when somebody is strong enough, like they withdraw their support for Qazi Mohammad and Rojhelat/East Kurdistan.
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