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Barzani extends olive branch to Baghdad, open talks, no military language

By Rudaw 6/11/2017
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
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.”


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koko | 6/11/2017
the kurdish people lost an opportunity that comes once in a century. if the kurds think that they can gain their land without a sacrifice, they are wrong. the kurds like to compare themselves to israel. both suffered from ethnic cleansing. both struggled for homeland. both threatened by 4 countries from all sides. but while israel chose to stand with the truth, the kurds were afraid. a nation with inside traitors and fears will never be independent. BUT it's not too late. arise. arise. take arms and fight for every hill and mountain. you succeeded against ISIS and you will beat the Iraq army.
Muraz Adzhoev | 6/11/2017
Unfortunately the statement with its clearly ambiguous and at least uncertain position does not reflect Kurdistan Region PM’s readiness and determination in upholding, advancing, protecting and promoting the binding sovereign outcome of the self-determination referendum of the People of Southern Kurdistan on its reintegration and independence according to the Constitution of deadly failed, hostile and criminal Iraq, principles of the international law, norms of humanitarian rights, justice, values. Unfortunately PM Nechirvan Barzani does not seem to be the right person at the right place to represent, to defend national rights and patriotic interests of the People, communities and groups of Southern Kurdistan in Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara. «Adaptation» is tantamount to «defeatism». And this is actually what the enemies are waiting for from Erbil to bring to the end the “problem of Kurdistan and Kurds” in “Arab Islamic (Shiite) Iraq”. The tragical history of the Kurdish national-patriotic struggle has been yet going on in constantly bloody artificial Iraq. The struggle for independence now must be headed by the military leaders, not politicians. The national leader Masoud Mustafa Barzani should lead the Peshmerga army forces and the People of Southern Kurdistan to free and to make the country independent.
duroi | 6/11/2017
The situation is in a state of flux in the region and another civil war in Lebanon could divert much of Shiite forces back to Lebanon and a direct conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is not impossible. Baghdad is not in a rush, and Erbil should not rush either for a one-sided agreement which gives away points to Baghdad; and ask for the money that Baghdad already owes KRG. The region is pregnant with another war and one hopes that Kurdish leaders have learnt a lesson from the ISIS chapter and act more decisively when another opportunity will arise.
American Citizen | 6/11/2017
Koko is a perfect name for such writer. prime Minister of Kurdistan is a smart man trying to save his people, region and Iraq in general from destruction. In the past, if not for the West and US Israel will never survive, now the west and US are busy protecting their interest, they do not care for anyone else. Smart man knows his assets and liability and use it well.
KurdishFriend | 6/11/2017
answer to koko If you want to compare the Kurds with someone, then you have to compare them with the Palestinaens which is supressed by Israel and the Jews. The Israelis have been stealing the land of the Palestinians for many decades.

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