ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani reiterated on Monday in Berlin that they were ready for “serious talks” with Baghdad and urged sorting out the issues of the Kurdistan Region’s airports and border-crossings per the Iraqi constitution and called upon the international community to help bring “Erbil and Baghdad closer together.”
Speaking during a press conference with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Barzani said “we have come to reiterate our stance for resolving the issues with Baghdad through dialogue within the context of the Iraqi constitution. We are committed to a democratic, federal and plural Iraq which respects the constitution of its country.”
“Per the Iraqi constitution, we have no problems concerning the federal authority over the border-crossings and airports,” Barzani explained, adding “We are ready to start a serious dialogue to resolving all the problems for the sake of calm and stability in the region.”
Barzani and his deputy arrived in Berlin, Germany on Sunday where they met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel [L], Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani [M] and his deputy Qubad Talabani [R] hold a meeting in Berlin on December 18, 2017. Photo: KRG
“We are asking the coalition and our friends to help play a major role in bringing both sides closer together,” he urged.
“We thank Germany for supporting the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region within the context of a federal, democratic and constitutional Iraq,” Barzani said.
The KRG premier added that they were in Germany to “discuss the latest eventualities in the region in general and the Kurdistan Region’s concerns with Baghdad in particular with high-ranking officials of Germany.”
The Federal Court has issued three verdicts since the KRG decided to hold the vote on independence: It first ruled to suspend the vote in September, next it concluded that the Iraqi constitution does not allow for the separation of any part of the country, followed by the final verdict on November 20 that cancelled the outcome of the vote.
“We respect the Iraqi Federal Court’s rulings,” the premier said.
He urged the “full” implementation of the constitution if Iraq aims to enjoy “stability, security and prosperity.”
It is the second foreign tour for PM Barzani, after France, since the relations between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments deteriorated to an all-time low after Kurdish vote on independence which Iraq opposed.
The KRG delegation is also set to visit the UK, but no time frame has been set yet, Spokesperson Safin Dizayee told Rudaw on Sunday.
For his part, German FM Gabriel urged Erbil and Baghdad to “rebuild their relations once again” which deteriorated in the wake of holding “referendum on independence.”
“We are asking the Iraqi government to accept the call for dialogue,” he said.
Baghdad has yet to commit to talks despite growing pressure from the international community, especially France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
“We predicted a lot of implications might happen, unfortunately, they did happen, leading to the deterioration of their relations,” he said, calling on Iraq to resolve its internal matters “in a peaceful and democratic way.”
He urged Erbil and the central government to work on their anti-ISIS efforts and hailed the confrontation made against ISIS by the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. In the end they managed to prevail over the group.
Germany is supporting a united Iraq, he said, explaining Berlin has so far offered “a billion euros” for the restoration of stability and services to the area.
In the post-ISIS era, Germany will work to not let this victory decline. He said they would continue to aid Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
Barzani thanked Germany for their assistance to the Peshmerga and US-led global coalition against ISIS.
“We thank the nation and government of Germany and international anti-ISIS coalition for helping and supporting the Kurdistan region and Iraq amid difficult times, particularly during the fight against ISIS by sending weapons, ammunition and military advice personnel to train Peshmerga and for offering to treat wounded Peshmerga in Germany,” he said.
He also thanked Berlin for “sending humanitarian aid for refugees and IDPs and carrying out service projects through German relevant parties.”
The bulk of the victims under ISIS were Yezidis and Christians who were "massacred in a very barbaric way. Girls and women were trafficked."
"Until now we have rescued 3,300. Yet, there are another 3,200 missing," he explained.
“Despite the crisis of the past three years as a result of Iraq’s policies and the fight against ISIS, particularly the tough economic woes of the Kurdistan Region, we did not shut the doors to the refugees and IDPs and provided safety per our limited resources, now numbering around 1.5 million,” Barzani explained.
He urged work “to restore stability and help refugees return home as they now suffer dire conditions.”
He also thanked the German government and parliament for extending their military presence to help train the Peshmerga.
Germany's new parliament on Tuesday voted to continue training Kurdish Peshmerga through April 2018, while allocating €6.9 million for the program.
Up to 150 German soldiers train the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the Kurdistan Region. They have trained more than 16,000 Kurdish soldiers since February 2015 as a member of the US-led Global Coalition to defeat ISIS.
Barzani at the end of his speech said he hoped to “hold fruitful meetings” with German officials.
He also wished for the German foreign minister to visit Erbil in the near future to continue similar talks.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi blocked an earlier planned visit by Foreign Minister Gabriel to the Kurdistan Region in the beginning of November in an "undiplomatic way," the German Der Spiegel reported.
Last updated at 5:34 p.m.