Kurdish President Masoud Barzani waves at a rally for independence in the Kurdistan Region's capital of Erbil on September 22, 2017. Photo: Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani told the French ambassador to Iraq that it is too late to discuss postponing the independence referendum, stressing that the parliament decided to hold the vote on Monday.
Barzani received Ambassador Bruno Aubert on Saturday in Erbil. The two discussed the referendum that is scheduled to take place despite growing regional and global pressure.
“No time is left to talk about postponing and the decision is not in the hands of a party or person,” a Saturday evening statement from the Kurdistan presidency quoted Barzani as saying. “The referendum will take place on time.”
Aubert stated that Paris is not against Kurdish aspirations and would like to further develop historic relations between the two nations, the statement added.
“He also expressed that France is not against the referendum as a principle. But we believe that the time is not right to hold the referendum and it may have an impact on the war against ISIS,” the French ambassador said, according to the statement.
The ambassador’s visit comes after French President Emmanuel Macron demanded the Kurdistan president postpone the vote when the two spoke on the phone on Thursday. Barzani told Macron that the vote will go ahead as the world had failed to provide a convincing alternative that could take the place of the referendum and secure an independent state for Kurdistan.
Barzani told a crowd on Friday in the capital Erbil that he is not a leader who could bring “shame” on himself by calling off the vote to please foreign capitals. He also said that the decision is in the hands of the Kurdish people, despite the many calls “day and night” from regional and global powers to postpone the vote.
Israel is the only country that has publicly supported the referendum, while the central government of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and even the United States have all expressed their opposition.