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Barzani Stresses ‘Referendum is for Independence’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani speaks during an interview with Reuters in Erbil, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad November 30, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Ankara, Arbil – The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, has stressed that he informed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the independence referendum which he has called for “is a normal, legal right of our people.”

“Afterwards we want (to) negotiate the results of the referendum in a peaceful way through dialogue,” Barzani told Abadi.

“The referendum issue is about the destiny of a whole people. That’s why this issue is bigger than any other political framework, or any political parties, or any political problems within the party system,” Barzai told Foreign Policy magazine in an interview.

“The referendum is for independence. That question will be asked to the people and the people will decide,” he stressed.

He expressed confidence that the majority of the people in Kurdistan are with the referendum. “The supporters of the political parties, the majority of them are also pro-referendum,” he said.

Barzani announced on June 7 that the referendum would be held in Kurdish areas of Iraq on September 25 to ask voters if they want a separate state. The vote is nonbinding.

“At many stages we wanted to hold it. But because of the overall situation, the context in the area, because of other developments, we have been postponing it. But if we postpone this longer it’s not going to beneficial to our people, it will have a negative impact on the destiny of our people,” Barzani told his interviewer.

Asked about the timing of the referendum, he said: “If you look at case studies of other countries (which have pursued independence), they all faced their own internal issues. They didn’t wait for solutions to all these internal issues and differences they had. We’re not going to wait for solutions to every single problem before we decide. This is bigger than those problems and bigger than those issues. We’ll do it and then we’ll solve those other issues later.”

The interview came as Turkey reiterated its rejection to hold the referendum.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara will host Barzani soon to discuss the issue.

The FM stressed that Iraq is facing many problems, including the fight against ISIS. So, it is inappropriate to take advantage of this situation by holding a referendum.