Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani speaking to reporters following a cabinet meeting in Erbil on Monday, November 6, 2017. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Kurdish government and political parties are ready to fully engage in negotiations with Baghdad in order to resolve all disputes through understanding and based on the constitution, said Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani at a press conference in Erbil on Monday, adding that the military is not the right approach to solving any issue.
“The KRG is ready for talks that would achieve the best interests of Iraq and Kurdistan Region,” PM Barzani told reporters. “We don't think issues could be resolved militarily. They need serious political talk.”
The Kurdish Prime Minister said: “The last fourteen years have been a good lesson that we can't resolve differences by the mindset of who is strong and who is not.”
He added that Erbil may have a different view of the Iraqi constitution “but we can still solve all issues through dialogue.”
We don't think issues could be resolved militarily.
Barzani described recent military confrontations between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces as unfortunate, adding that “there was no need for the deployment of the army and Hashd al-Shaabi.”
“We ask for a complete and inclusive ceasefire and urge Baghdad for talks.”
He maintained that there were talks between Kurdish and Iraqi military officials, “but to this point there is no agreement between them and nothing has been signed,” he said, stressing that “the solution does not lie in the military but in serious political negotiations.”
“We are even ready to talk to Iraqi political parties who genuinely want to understand the situation and find a solution for it,” the Prime Minister said, “The talks do not necessarily have to be only with the government.”
Responding to a question from a reporter about Kurdistan Region’s oil revenues since the October events and loss of Kirkuk, Barzani said, “More than half of Kurdistan Region’s oil has been reduced and that certainly affects our revenues. What’s important to us, and all our efforts now are to reach a deal with Baghdad.”
“We say this now and we have said it before, if Baghdad is willing to fully pay the 17 percent share of our budget we are ready to hand over to them the oil dossier.”
“There has not been a census in Iraq and until that happens things should remain as they are agreed on in the constitution. The Iraqi constitution gives the Kurdistan Region 17 percent of the budget.”
The Iraqi constitution gives the Kurdistan Region 17 percent of the budget.
PM Barzani said that Kurdish political parties are united in their belief in negotiations with Baghdad and they pursue that through the KRG.
“Can Iraq’s issues be resolved with force?” Barzani said all Iraqi and Kurdish leaders should ask themselves. “No, Iraq’s history shows us that that is not the case.”
“Baghdad and Erbil issues can be solved through straightforward negotiations and with an open mind and not a mentality of who is victorious and who is not,”
“If we really want peace and stability and for all groups to live in geography called Iraq, serious talks must then be held far from who has lost and who has won,” PM Barzani said. “With this mindset we can expect a bright future for all Iraqis.”
Barzani urged Baghdad to be genuine in its statements and not resort to political games of “saying they will pay KRG employees’ salaries but not doing so”, reminding all sides that a policy of starvation will not serve anyone including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
On the home front, PM Barzani said that ministers of the Change Movement (Gorran) are welcome to return to their posts and rejoin the cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The Prime Minister said that his government will do its best to continue paying its civil servants and guarantee their pay. Meanwhile he called on Baghdad to avoid actions aimed at ending the Kurdistan Region as a constitutionally recognized entity.
We're interested in talking to all our neighbors and show our interest for peace and understanding.
“The Kurdistan Region is a recognized political entity by the Iraqi constitution and the international community,” he said. “Unfortunately the attitude now is to dismantle this entity completely which is a real risk for all of the Kurdistan Region.
“He [Abadi] is the Prime Minister of all Iraq and must act that way, he must care for the payment of Mosul, Basra and the Kurdistan Region equally,”
Barzani said that Erbil still maintains ties with Iran and Turkey and that the Kurdistan Region wants to live in peace and harmony with its neighbors.
“We are interested in talking to all our neighbors and show our interest for peace and understanding,” he said. “Turkey is an important neighbor and has helped the people of Kurdistan during the hard times,”
“We also remember help of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added. “The Kurdistan Region wants to live in peace with its neighbors and be a force for stability, including Turkey with whom we have had good relations in the past,”
“We want to continue talks with Turkey and Iran and have them help us solve our disputes with Iraq, too.”
PM Barzani revealed that he is personally in contact with both countries by way of negotiations.
Barzani concluded the press conference by saying that the disputed territories remained “disputed” as outlined in the Iraqi constitution and must remain so “whether the Iraqis are in control of it or us.”
And, he added, “We want the displaced people to be able to return but only if they feel safe and secure.”