ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Minister-President of the Government of Flanders on Wednesday called on the Iraqi government to reconsider the measures taken against the Kurdistan Region.
In a letter sent to the Iraqi Ambassador in Belgium, Jawad Kadhim Jawad Al-Hindawy, Geert Bourgeois, the Minister-President of Flanders, addressed his “concerns” about the recent crises between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government.
“I was informed about measures taken by [the Iraqi] government, such as the reduction of the Kurdistan Region’s budget for 2018, the closure of the Kurdistan Region’s airspace, as well as travel restrictions for its citizens,” Bourgeois wrote in the letter.
“Those measures have [a] great effect on the people in the region,” he noted.
“But, [these actions] also hinder assistance being provided to more than 1.5 million displaced persons who have taken refuge in the Kurdistan Region,” the Minister-President added.
The relationship between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government considerably deteriorated following Kurdistan’s Sep. 25 independence referendum.
The historic vote received extensive support for secession from Iraq, but Baghdad refused to recognize the results and instead responded by imposing collective punitive measures against Kurdistan, including the use of military force in disputed areas.
The KRG has shown its flexibility, offering to freeze the results of the referendum, but Baghdad demands a full annulment instead.
Bourgeois urged the Iraqi Ambassador to “share my concerns with your government, hoping that these measures might be reconsidered.”
In July, leading up to the Region’s independence vote, the Minister-President of Flanders voiced his support for the will of the people of Kurdistan “as they embark on a democratic decision.”
“I am in favor of the right of self-determination for all the people in the world,” he told reporters after a meeting with former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani in Belgium.
“If the majority supports independence, I think we should accept it,” Bourgeois added.
Since 2014, Bourgeois has been the Minister-President and Flemish Minister for Foreign Policy and Immovable Cultural Heritage of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium.