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UPDATES: Belgian deputy PM sees referendum as 'step up' for Kurds

By Rudaw 11/7/2017
Jan Jambon, Belgium's deputy prime minister of security and the interior, speaks to reporters in Brussels on July 11, 2017.

4.28 pm

Flanders leader: The result of the referendum vote must be respected

If the majority of votes in the Kurdistan Region’s referendum are for independence, “I think we should respect it,” said Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of the Flanders region of Belgium, following his meeting with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and a delegation from the Kurdistan Region.

He said that in a democracy the will of the people must be respected and added that he would be “very grateful” to send observers to monitor the vote if requested. 




3:55 p.m.

President Barzani calls Flanders understanding, friends towards Kurdish referendum

"They are our friends. It was a very, very successful and friendly meeting. They could help and support us as we have expected them to support our nation for this decision. They are very understanding and friendly," said Barzani after his meeting with Flemish government officials including  Minister-President Geert Bourgeois.

During the referendum vote which takes place on Sept. 25, Barzani said "many of them are willing to send observers."

Asked about assistance to the Peshmerga after ISIS, Barzani replied "firstly, the terror has not ended. Fighting them is long-term... Of course they will continue and earlier the [Belgian] ministers of defense and interior emphasized that they will continue to help."

Barzani urged the people of the Kurdistan Region to go to the polls and cast their ballots.

"My message is, they prepare themselves for September 25 and all go to the polls and cast their ballots, they can vote whatever, following their conscience."

He also called on the Kurdish community in Europe to vote.

"I am asking them to take part in it and fulfil their national duty," Barzani added, explaining that voting abroad is a technical matter to be addressed by the Kurdistan High Electoral Commission.



2:50 p.m.

Kurdish referendum council received by Minister-President of Flanders

The Kurdish referendum delegation was received by officials of the Flemish Government including its Minister-President Geert Bourgeois at Errera House in Brussels.

The Flemish Region, also known as Flanders, is one of three official regions in Belgium. Flanders has five provinces each with its own capital and its own elected legislative body of 124 representatives. 




2:14 p.m.

Referendum council heads to Flemish Region government

The high-level Kurdistan Region referendum committee delegation headed by President Barzani started meeting with officials of the Flemish Region, Belgium. It will be followed by bilateral meetings with EU leaders, and official meetings in the EU parliament.



12:35 p.m.


Belgian deputy PM believes ‘every nation’ has right to organize its future

"It was a very interesting meeting. We could exchange our point of views …” Jan Jambon, the deputy prime minister of security and the interior told reporters.

Jambon believes self-determination is a step up for Kurds.

"Every people every nation has the rights to organize its future, and I think this is a step upwards for the future of the Kurds and they are ... to decide on their future and we will wait for the result."

He was asked about how Belgium would react the outcome of the independence referendum.

"This is a Kurdish and Iraq internal affair, so we will wait for the result of the referendum and also the negotiations with Baghdad — how this is working — before we can take a position for the Belgian government. But we will follow it with very much interest …” he said.

Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region, speaks with Kurdish media in Brussels Belgium on July 11, 2017. 

Kurdish President Barzani believes that the first meeting with Belgium officials was positive.

"Our meeting was very good. We conveyed the message of the people of Kurdistan to our friends here in Belgium," Kurdish President Masoud Barzani told reporters after the meeting. "There was a good understanding. We are thankful and thanking them.  Their attitude was very friendly."


Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul liberated from ISIS standing beside Iraqi and Kurdish commanders on Monday — three years and a month after the group captured Iraq's second-largest city.

The deputy PM commended Kurdish efforts in their "tough" role against the extremists. 

"I told the President that in the fight against terrorism, we are all in the same boat, but some have a more tough job in this boat than others," he explained. "What the Kurdish Peshmerga did in this fight against ISIS and terrorism has our respect, deep respect for what they did. "




Kurdish referendum council takes first meeting in Brussels

11:41 a.m.


BRUSSELS, Belgium – A visiting high-level Kurdish referendum committee delegation headed by President Barzani held its first official meeting on Tuesday with the Belgian deputy prime minister and the defense ministry, reportedly discussing the Kurdistan Region's referendum vote on independence.

Rudaw correspondent Alla Shali reported from Brussels that the meeting would last until this evening and then the Kurdish delegation will meet with the president of the Flemish Region to be followed by bilateral meetings with EU leaders, and official meetings in the EU parliament.

The President of the Kurdistan Region and a high-level referendum council arrived in Brussels on Monday.
Hoshyar Zebari, who is a member of the delegation, told Rudaw yesterday that they are in Brussels with a clear message, which will be “presented to everyone, explained to them and will ask for their support.”
Zebari said Europe had its weight in the subject of Kurdish referendum, pointing out that they could also make up for much of the suffering of Kurds in the last century that was “caused by them” by supporting the upcoming referendum.
And that's why, he added, they are “in the heart of the European Union and its parliament,” seeking support.
This is the first diplomatic foreign trip of the Referendum Council.
Barzani's accompanying delegation consists of Kirkuk governor  Najmadin Karim; Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) representative Hoshyar Zebari; Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) representative Mohammed Hawdiyani; along with Falah Mustafa, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Department of Foreign Relations.
Among the delegations also are Mohammed Saaddadin, a Turkmen representative, along with Wahid Hurmuz, a Christian representative, and Sheikh Shamo, a representative for Yezidi Kurds.
The Kurdistan Region has announced its plans on September 25 to hold a referendum on independence.


The Observer | 11/7/2017
The delegation is headed by the Kurdish President Barzani , on board is also the honorable Governer of Kerkuk and the Yzidi Kurdish representative as well as the Turkemen representative. Sadly and shamefully the seditious Gorran and its treatiorous company are absent because they obey the criminal clergy of Iran and Baghdad.
Ciara Callisti | 11/7/2017
We stand with you. The will of the Kurdish people should be respected and accepted. Every nation deserves to live in freedom. Regards from Slovenia.
luke | 12/7/2017
Lets hope the rest of the free world takes the right principled stand and gets behind south eastern Kurdistan as they seek there basic national right to self determination . We can only hope that south eastern Kurdstan follows East Timor and not Western Sahara or Somaliland in it's international standing .
Yassir Fekaiki | 16/7/2017
Kurdistan is much larger and greater than being portrayed by the few. an illegitimate imposed reign by a few on a region that is represents only a small part of Kurdistan which is some almost 40 million population that span out across a vast region. A handful of selfish opportunists trying to piggy pack off the rights of the rightful many

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