The Old Royal Palace in Athens is home to the Hellenic Parliament. Photo: Rudaw TV
ATHENS, Greece — As the Kurdistan Region rapidly approaches a vote by its people on independence, politicians in the birthplace of democracy weighed in on how they believe some in Greece view the referendum.
“I think this government, that they are a left government. They are a government that supports the independence of a population that wants freedom. I think they will support them," Jean-Daniel Colombani, Director of Outreach and Development of the Immigration Union of Greece, told Rudaw’s Ala Shali.
“And also, the opposition, that may be the government of tomorrow, the future government, they will support,” added Colombani, who is also a special advisor on migration policy.
Adonis Georgiadis, the vice chairman of Greece’s New Democracy Party expressed that Greece supports those who struggle for freedom. He also understands the arguments which some governments in the region have expressed, speculating that a Kurdish move towards independence could lead to the break up of Iraq and a possible ripple effect throughout the Middle East.
“We always support people when they fight for their freedom. We have to be very careful about the stability of your region. We have to respect the rights of Iraq also. But of course the people of Kurdistan have the right to decide for their own future,” said Georgiadis, who was the former Minister of Health.
While countries like the United States have said they disagree with the timing of the September 25 referendum, Colombani, who was formerly the president of the Immigration Union, believes states across the globe see value in Kurdistan.
“All these countries from the East, and the European countries, the USA, Australia and Canada, they support Kurdistan because Kurdistan is the future of the Middle East,” he explained.
The Kurdistan Region has largely been spared attacks because of strict security and military measures taken by its intelligence agencies and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
“It’s the peaceful people. I don’t think that they exist in the Middle East, except Israel or Kurdistan, a more peaceful place,” concluded Colombani.
Since 2009, the Hellenic Republic has maintained a diplomatic representation in the Kurdistan Region through an economic and commercial office that coordinates business and commerce.
Many refugees from Northern Africa and Syria, including some Kurds, have braved treacherous seas to seek shelter in camps in Greece. More than 62,407 migrants or refugees are currently in camps in southern Greece, the country’s Defense Ministry’s Coordinating Body for the Management of the Refugee Crisis announced in late June.
The Kurdistan Region has hosted 1.8 million IDPs and refugees since the rise of ISIS. Ninety-eight percent of Syrian refugees who came to Iraq have been sheltered in the Kurdistan Region.