ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – International allies have welcomed the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) statement of respect for an Iraqi court ruling on the issue of secession and are urging Baghdad to finally come to the table and begin negotiations with Erbil.
“This is an important gesture of readiness to dialogue. Now, the Iraqi government should do its part to respond and start resolving the disputed political questions as soon as possible,” Germany’s foreign ministry stated on Thursday, welcoming the KRG’s move.
An Iraqi Federal Court interpreted Article 1
of the constitution to guarantee Iraqi unity and prohibit the secession of any part of the country. The KRG stated that it respects this ruling
as a basis for dialogue.
“If all sides work towards the same goal, and the unity of the country and the constitutional system remains protected, Iraq could possibly overcome the major challenges it has faced,” the German statement added.
Germany’s backing the Kurdish call for dialogue follows on the heels of similar statements from France, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the European Union, among others.
The European Union’s foreign affairs office welcomed the KRG’s statement on the court ruling as a “significant step.”
“It should open the way to a comprehensive dialogue between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. This is the only manner to resolve all the pending disputes in the interest of a peaceful and prosperous future for all Iraqi citizens,” the EU stated, adding that it is ready to support dialogue, if requested by all parties.
“France welcomes the recognition by the Kurdistan Regional Government of the opinion of the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq of 6 November on the unity of Iraq, as well as the availability of its dialogue,” read a statement from France’s foreign ministry.
Urging Iraqi and Kurdish authorities to engage in dialogue, France reiterated that it supports efforts by the UN representative in Iraq, Jan Kubis.
Kubis was in Erbil on Wednesday, delivering a letter
from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.
Guterres urged both Erbil and Baghdad to create an environment where “genuine negotiations” can take place.
The UK also welcomed the KRG’s stance on the court ruling, as has the Netherlands, which said it "should pave the way to start political negotiations."
The US special representative to the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, is currently in Baghdad where he met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and “Affirmed importance of dialogue under the constitution to resolve outstanding issues with KRG,” he stated on Twitter on Thursday.
Kurdish and Iraqi military representatives have met several times to discuss security matters, largely related to control of disputed areas and international borders. No final resolution has yet been reached.
The Kurds have repeatedly called on Baghdad to also engage in political talks and have prepared experts
to go to Baghdad to negotiate, including on the matter of the controversial 2018 budget
. Baghdad has so far resisted all calls to engage in political dialogue though Abadi did welcome
the KRG’s respect for the court ruling.
Kurdistan Region parliamentary leaders met with representatives of diplomatic missions in the Kurdistan Region on Thursday.
“We expressed our words frankly that we are for dialogue and talks between both sides, Erbil and Baghdad, within the framework of the Iraqi constitution and all the Iraqi laws and agreements we signed with the Iraqi government in the past concerning the budget of the Kurdistan Region,” Begard Talabani, parliamentary secretary, told reporters.
If Baghdad fails to sit down and talk, “we… will have the option of withdrawal from the political process of Iraq,” she added, but stressed that they prefer dialogue.
The dispute between Erbil and Baghdad follows from Iraq's rejection of Kurdistan's independence vote and military takeover of disputed areas.
Updated at 1:09 pm