LONDON, United Kingdom – While the war with ISIS remains the top priority, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has continued to build diplomatic relations with an eye to ensuring Kurdish interests are represented on the world stage, head of the KRG’s foreign relations department said at a conference in London on Tuesday.
Falah Mustafa said the KRG has formed diplomatic relations with 36 states around the world, including the neighbouring nations of Turkey, Iran, and Arab states. Equally as important, he noted, the KRG established relations with western countries that will guarantee the region can no longer be neglected or isolated internationally.
Mustafa stressed that the Kurdistan Region is a “responsible partner” to the international community and the fight against ISIS is top of the agenda for his government.
"For the moment, the key focus of our region is the battle against ISIS," Mustafa said, "Whatever our future goal plans for the region, we understand and we must first be free of the threat from ISIS. No goal is more important, no more urgent than that.”
With regard to that future, "Federalism has failed," Mustafa said about the current system that binds the KRG with Iraq. But his government seeks a peaceful and negotiated solution regarding their aspiration for independence provided that the rights of the Kurdish people, including in areas liberated by the Peshmerga from ISIS, are respected.
Speaking at the 6th Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas Conference, Mustafa said that the oil and gas industry has led to both positive and negative relationships for his government.
"While energy has been a source of division in Iraq, it has been a source of agreement and mutual benefits between the KRG and Turkey," he said.
The KRG maintains economic and political relations with Turkey, and importantly sends its oil to international market through the Turkish territory via a pipeline.