ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – French Consul General in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, highlighted the ‘long term, historic relations’ between the Kurdistan Region and France.
In an interview with Kurdistan24, Mr. Dominique Mas talked about the Kurdistan Region and France relations, the recent visit by the France President François Hollande, and Erbil-Baghdad relations.
Mas said the objective of Hollande’s visit was to express France’s political support to Erbil and Baghdad and its military support to the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army.
“President Hollande brought some medical aid for the hospitals in Erbil that are currently treating the wounded Iraqi soldiers,” Mas said.
“There are historic, long-term relations between Kurdistan Region and France,” Mas said, giving the example of Hollande’s visit to Erbil for the second time since the war against Islamic State (IS) started, adding that “This is a big support to the Kurdistan Region.”
He explained that Erbil-Paris relations go back to long before the war against IS began and predicted that France and Kurdistan will have long-standing relations.
Mas revealed that “President Hollande’s message, when he assigned me as Consul General in Erbil, was to establish long term relations with the Kurdistan Region.”
“Hollande also informed the authorities in Baghdad that France will maintain good relations with both Erbil and Baghdad,” Mas added.
He explained that France relations with Kurdistan Region go back to the time of Daniel Mitterrand, wife of then President, François Mitterrand.
She played a role in convincing the French government to initiate the resolution in support of the people of Kurdistan Region during the mass exodus in 1991.
Asked about the French economic interests in the Kurdistan Region, Mas said “French companies based in the Kurdistan are expanding their work and they will help the Region rebuild the liberated areas and will expand investment when peace resumes.”
“When Hollande visited the Kurdistan Region [in Sept 2014], ISIS was on the gates of Erbil. When Hollande [recently] visited the Peshmerga frontline, he was grateful that Peshmerga forces and Iraq army liberated those area,” Mas told Kurdistan24.
“France is a friend of Iraq and especially a friend of the Kurds; we are satisfied with the level of coordination between Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army which will lead to more political dialogue between both Erbil and Baghdad to solve the disputes,” Mas said.
Additionally, he stated that “France will continue to support Erbil and Baghdad to reach a joint political solution between both sides
Regarding independence, the French Consul said, “This is a tough issue for us to raise with the Iraqi government, but France keeps the balance between Erbil and Baghdad and this is an internal issue that needs to be resolved through peaceful dialogue.”
Whatever political administration or people decide on should be through dialogue in a democratic, secular Iraq where all components are included, Mas said.
“What is important for us is that post-IS Iraq be a democratic, united Iraq where all components are protected,” he concluded.
Editing by Ava Homa
(Interview Conducted by Kamaran Haji Omer)