Irbil Seeks 'Meaningful' Talks With Baghdad on Self-Determination
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is looking the Iraqi central government in Baghdad for a frank discussion on the future autonomy of federalized region, KRG Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir told Sputnik.
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein – In a late August meeting between KRG President Masoud Barzani and Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the two discussed the unequal status of the federated region of Kurdistan, Bakir noted in a Thursday interview.
"[Barzani] very clearly raised the issue of self-determination… and we want to raise that, to discuss that in a serious and meaningful discussion and dialogue with Baghdad, because we want to achieve our objectives peacefully," Bakir said.
The KRG has long sought independence from the central government in Baghdad, and reports suggest that the people of Kurdistan could vote on an independence referendum in late 2016.
A previous referendum was scheduled for 2014, after a major KRG dispute with former Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, but the vote was postponed as regional security deteriorated with the rise of the Islamic State.
Though Bakir did not emphasize the issue of an independent Kurdistan, he clearly stated that "to exercise the right of self-determination includes everything up to independence."
Bakir suggested the two sides have to look into a new formula.
"That is why it will be a process, a negotiation process, we hope that we will be able to reach an agreement and understanding with our partners in Iraq," he said.
The KRG is a diverse region in northern Iraq whose most recent efforts to achieve independent statehood were repeatedly thwarted and sometimes brutally undermined throughout the 20th century history of Iraq.
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