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Kurdish President Barzani tells EU leaders referendum is 'irreversible'

By Rudaw 22/6/2017
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Kurdish President Barzani tells EU leaders referendum is 'irreversible'
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani (center) meets with European Union officials (left) and Kurdish officials (right) on Thursday. Photo: KRP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish President Masoud Barzani reiterated his firm stance that a decision made to hold an independence referendum on September 25 is “irreversible” and urged the European Union and the international community not to be against what is the Kurdish nation’s “God given right.”


“The referendum decision by all means is irreversible,” said Barzani in a meeting on Thursday with the EU’s diplomatic missions in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, according to a statement released by the Kurdistan Region Presidency.


Also in attendance were representatives of Kurdish parties including Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party (KSDP), Kurdistan Toilers Party (KTP), Kurdistan Communist Party, along with Turkmen and Christian party representatives.


The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union convened earlier this week, when it adopted several conclusions in regards to issues facing the Kurdistan Region including: “unilateral steps must be avoided” and to engage with the federal government “in a constructive dialogue on all issues across the political and economic spectrum, including the disputed internal boundaries.”


Barzani, the statement detailed, addressed the planned referendum, calling on EU state members through their envoys in Iraq, and additionally the international community not to “be against the natural, legal and God given right of the Kurdistan nation.”

 

The Kurdish president added the people of Kurdistan should express their opinion on their fate and future.

 

According to the statement, Barzani said the Kurdistan Region will enter talks with Baghdad and take all the peaceful and dialogue ways in resolving the problems and reaching an understanding which serves peace and security to develop both sides and the region.

 
Barzani also stressed the duty on the part of the Europeans to be assistive between Erbil and Baghdad in resolving their long-standing and impending issues through dialogue and peaceful understandings.
 
Barzani said in the meeting that Kurdistan had bitter experiences with the Iraqi state in the past and has tried by all means to preserve the unity of Iraq, as it sacrificed a lot in this way, but that all these attempts have been to no avail.
 

So long as the partnership cannot be maintained to prevent plights and war "let us live together as neighbors next to each other," Barzani urged.

 
The Kurdish leader went on to explain after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Kurdish leadership with full force helped rebuild Iraq on the basis of democracy, federalism, constitution and agreements in hopes to start a new life, but Baghdad neglected all of that.
 
Even it reached a point that Baghdad cut off the bread of the Kurdish people as a political punishment against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Kurdish leader said.
 
Baghdad, officially during the leadership of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, withheld 17-percent of the Region’s budget share in early 2014.

For their part the EU delegation which consisted of EU Envoy to Iraq Patrick Simon, the Belgian and Polish ambassadors to Iraq, the head of EU office in Erbil, Italy and Spain’s embassy representatives together, along with EU countries’ Consuls in Erbil, including Germany, France, Holland, Britain Czech and Romania, unanimously expressed their support for the Kurdistan Region in the face of challenges and issues, according to the statement from the presidency.

The EU delegation also urged dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil to resolve the problem of disputed areas or Kurdistani areas outside the Region’s administration as it will be in the benefit of both sides.
 
They also thanked the region in hosting refugees who had fled for their lives and sought refuge in the region, and the Peshmerga in their fight against the extremist group.
 
In the meeting both sides had also talked about the ongoing battle against ISIS.
 
The Kurdish leader said what happened to the Yezidis at the hands of ISIS during their brutal march on Shingal city and surrounding areas in August 2014 was the result of Baghdad’s exclusive policies.
 

“The Kurdistan Region paid a very huge price in this war,” Barzani said, adding there was an agreement before stipulating that the Peshmerga were part of the Iraqi defense system, but even this agreement was not implemented.

 

He explained that due to several years’ arm sanctions on the Peshmerga, the Kurdish force did not have the needed weapons to fight off the terrorists who had the best kinds of weapons. And one of the underlying reasons of genocide against the Yezidis was the sanctions that Iraqi government had imposed. The Iraqi government, therefore, did not save Kurdistan and other Iraqi components from the threat of terror.

 

In spite of that Barzani said, the Peshmerga assisted the Iraqi army and defeated ISIS’s defending lines and paved the way for the Mosul operation.

 

He went on to say that military cooperation between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces will remain the Region’s top priority in defeating terror.


Commenting on refugees recently residing in the Kurdistan Region, Barzani accused the central government of being “neglectful” in meeting Erbil’s demands to supply the refugees.


The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union had met in Luxembourg on Monday and adopted several conclusions regarding the Kurdistan Region.

“The EU calls on the Federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to build on their successful security cooperation in the campaign to liberate Mosul and to engage in a constructive dialogue on all issues across the political and economic spectrum, including the disputed internal boundaries,” read the EU’s outcome of proceedings. 

The EU also is encouraging the restoration of institutions like the Kurdistan Region’s parliament which has not convened since 2015 and some parties would like to tie to the independence referendum.

“The EU also urges all parties in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to seek common ground and restore the functioning of its democratic institutions, including by holding regional elections,” they added.

It does not see unilateral action as the best choice for Kurdistan, while urging continued dialogue.

“The EU believes that the general interest of Iraqi people is best served through dialogue and cooperation, that unilateral steps must be avoided, and that all open questions must be resolved through consensual positions based on the full application of the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution,” reads the outcome of proceedings,” the proceedings read.

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