Mullah Bakhtyar, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Holding a referendum on independence is an undeniable right and Kurds do not have to threaten Baghdad through the media, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), according to a senior member of the PUK.
“Holding a referendum is normal and this does not mean that we declare a state,” said Mullah Bakhtyar, in a press conference on Sunday. “In this regard, Abadi said ‘referendum is your right and you do not have to threaten us through the media.’”
A PUK delegation met with Abadi in Baghdad over the weekend. Saadi Ahmed Pira, another senior member of the party who accompanied Bakhtyar to Baghdad, told Rudaw on Saturday that Abadi had told them Baghdad would not “oppose” Kurdish right to “self-determination.”
“About the right to self-determination, Abadi said they will not oppose it since every nation is entitled to it as it is a right recognized by the international community. Steps to reach this right also should not be deterred,” Pira said.
Pira shared what Abadi had told their delegation: “But, we have to understand each other, we have to work on a program of togetherness or a program of separation. We would like to be good neighbors.”
On August 22, a high-level PUK delegation head by Mullah Bakhtyar arrived in Baghdad.
Bakhtyar revealed that their visit to Baghdad was timely and “important” because they were able to discuss a range of critical issues that have remained unsolved between the central government and Erbil.
“The visit by the PUK delegation to Baghdad was important,” he said. “To resolve constitutional, economic and political issues we have to return to Baghdad and there we should announce our goals.”
He also claimed that the delegation did not make any specific calls for the party’s interest but rather represented the government’s interests.
“Our calls were to resolve the budget and salaries of the Kurdistan Region, as well as other problems,” he said.
One of the pending issues is oil. Bakhtyar stated that “Baghdad is ready to resume talks with Erbil to resolve oil issues between both sides.”