ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The current oil deal with Russia's Rosneft would greatly develop the energy sector in the Kurdistan Region, said a top Kurdish official on Saturday.
In an interview with Kurdistan24 in St. Petersburg, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani addressed several topics.
KURDISTAN REGION AND RUSSIA RELATIONS
Barzani mentioned that a new stage of bilateral ties has begun between the Kurdistan Region and Russia in all aspects following meetings between the high-ranking delegation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Energy and Foreign Ministers, and energy companies last week.
“[This next step] is very important for the Kurdistan Region as well as for Russia,” Barzani said.
Regarding the current deal with Rosneft, Barzani said “it is a memorandum of understanding,” that meetings will work on for months before it turns into a contract both sides will sign.
“It is the first time Rosneft will transfer crude oil from the Kurdistan Region to its refineries in Germany. .. The move will help develop the energy sector in the Kurdistan Region.”
He mentioned that the agreement with Rosneft would create job opportunities in the region. “It is the first positive news [for Kurdistan's economy] after three years of crisis in the region.”
The Kurdish Premier also highlighted that the oil agreement would bring back credibility to the Kurdistan oil market and attract other foreign companies to invest in the region.
KURDISTAN INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM
During his visit to St. Petersburg, Barzani also met with the Kurdish community in Russia. He discussed the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, the referendum on independence and the role of Kurds in the diaspora.
“Kurdistan's independence referendum is one of the KRG's priorities. It is a national issue, and we are in dialogue with other Kurdish parties in the Kurdistan Region to hold the referendum in the near future,” Barzani added.
He expressed support for the Kurds in Russia regarding the celebration of their culture but reminded that the Kurdistan Region would not interfere in the internal affairs of the country.
HASHD AL-SHAABI AND PKK NEAR SHINGAL
In another part of the interview, Barzani talked about the presence of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters in Sinjar (Shingal) city west of Mosul, as well as Iraqi state-sponsored Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), near the city.
“According to our agreement with the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi, there must be a joint operation by Iraqi forces and Peshmerga in Shingal area, but it is very unfortunate that they have breached this agreement,” Barzani noted.
He added that he respects the sacrifices of the PMF made in the area, but that their presence will disturb the security and stability in the region. Barzani called for dialogue to avoid any problems escalating between the Peshmerga and Hashd al-Shaabi.
Regarding the PKK and its armed groups in Shingal, Barzani emphasized on his previous claims that the PKK's presence in the area will create instability in the city and prevent displaced Ezidis from returning to their homes, urging the PKK to withdraw from the area.
Editing by G.H. Renaud