President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani (L) with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in Sofia, Bulgaria late May, 2017. Photo: KRP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Bulgaria has not taken a stance on the Kurds’ plan for a referendum later this year that might separate them from Iraq, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has told his country’s parliament, adding that the Kurdish president had raised with him his plans for a referendum during a visit to Sofia last month.
''Bulgaria has not expressed an official position on the upcoming referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan'', Borisov told the Parliament in response to a question about a meeting with Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, reported Sofia News Agency.
The question was asked by MP Elena Yoncheva from opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani visited Bulgaria last month where he raised the referendum issue with Bulgarian leaders, said Borisov.
"The meeting I held with Mr. Masoud Barzani on May 25 was part of the efforts of the President of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan to present to the international community the idea for a referendum on the proclamation of a new independent state. His visit to Sofia was part of his international tour," The Bulgarian PM told his parliament.
"We did not take a stance on the referendum, he just wanted to present it to us and we listened to him. We have not expressed an official position. If it is to express a position, then it should be done by the Parliament of Bulgaria," he added, according to the Sofia News Agency report.
PM Borisov said that he encourages both Baghdad and Erbil to put aside their differences and seek cooperation.
“In view of the fight against international terrorism, the regional security and possibilities for a deeper cooperation in these fields, the position of the EU, and Bulgaria, underlines the need of overcoming the differences between government and regional authorities of Baghdad and Erbil,” the Bulgarian PM was reported to have said in parliament.
President Barzani convened a meeting with political parties in Erbil last week during which September 25 was chosen as a day for the Kurdistan Region and its outlying territories to hold referendum on whether to stay with Iraq or form an independent Kurdish state.