Erbil – President of the Iraqi Kurdistan region Masoud Barzani arrived in Brussels on Monday on an official visit where he will hold talks with a number of European Union officials on the upcoming Kurdish independence referendum.
His media aide Kifah Mahmoud told Asharq Al-Awsat that the visit to Belgium was made at the invitation of the European Parliament, whose members are seeking clarifications about the vote.
Barzani will deliver a speech at the parliament that will detail the formation of the state of Iraq and how Kurdistan became a part of it despite pledges for the region’s independence that were never fulfilled, revealed Mahmoud.
“The Kurdish people have for the past 80 years been victims to all sorts of wars, genocide and chemical attacks. They have also seen the destruction of 5,000 of their villages,” he added.
The referendum is scheduled for September 25.
Mahmoud said: “Addressing the post 2003 phase, the president will affirm that the Kurds wanted to cement ties with Baghdad, but the partnership failed. This led us to listen to the will of the Kurdistan people in determining their fate and the form of the relationship with Baghdad.”
Accompanying Barzani on his trip is Prime Minister of the autonomous Kurdish region Nechirvan Barzani, who is scheduled to visit Turkey in upcoming days.
In the meantime, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday it was increasingly important that neighboring Iraq remain a unified country and said the Kurdish referendum should not go ahead.
“The importance of Iraq’s territorial integrity is increasing by the day,” he told a petroleum conference in Istanbul.
“They should refrain from unilateral steps, such as an independence referendum.”