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Barzani Holds on to Kurdistan Independence Referendum - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Irbil – President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani announced on Thursday that Kurdish political powers are working on reaching an agreement to organize the area’s independence referendum.

He said during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Irbil that the region will go ahead and hold the independence vote despite the objections of Baghdad and regional powers.

“Those who criticize the referendum do not understand the situation very well. The vote is aimed at delivering the voice of the Kurdish people to the world,” he continued.

“We will negotiate with all sides, especially Baghdad,” he stressed.

“This does not mean that we will take the road of violence. We choose peace and negotiations. The result of the referendum will fall in favor of the Kurdish people and region in general,” declared Barzani.

For his part, Gabriel refused to discuss the referendum and the future of ties between the Kurdish region and Baghdad, saying it is an internal affair between the two sides.

“They will later decide what they want. We support all steps that will contribute to stability in the region,” he stated.

The minister highlighted the importance of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in regards to its rich natural and human resources, saying that Germany and Europe “need to focus on Kurdistan and Iraq and contribute to the region’s social development.”

He also relayed Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s “understanding” of the Kurdish demand for independence.