BRUSSELS, Belgium (Kurdistan24) – All nations around the world have the right to self-determination, and their decisions should be respected, said a top Flanders official on Tuesday.
Following the meeting with Belgian officials, the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani and the High Referendum Council members met with the Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois.
In a press conference after the conference, President Barzani labeled the meeting very positive.
“They are our friends. The meeting was very successful and friendly. They can help and support us. This is what we expect from them to support our people for the [independence] referendum,” the President told reporters.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has planned to hold an independence referendum on Sep. 25, 2017.
The vote is a long-awaited move toward the Kurdish dream of establishing an independent state and seceding from the rest of Iraq.
President Barzani mentioned Flanders is ready to send their observers to monitor the process of the Kurdistan Region referendum like many other countries.
He also added Flanders and the Belgian officials have stated they will support Peshmerga forces in the ongoing fight against terrorism.
Bourgeois highlighted the will of the Kurdistan Region people, stating it is a democratic decision and Flanders will respect it.
“I am in favor of the right of the self-determination of all the people in the world,” he told reporters.
“There is the will of the government [KRG] to organize this referendum. I think we should respect it. It’s a result of democracy to respect the will of the people,” Bourgeois continued.
“If the majority supports independency, I think we should accept it. It is the right of self-determination,” he added.
The Flanders official praised the stability in Kurdistan, highlighting his previous visits to the Region.
“It’s a very tolerant country where different people, not only Kurds but Arabs and other people are living there,” he said.
“They are living together. When I was there, I could see there is a tolerance for all the religions. It is an example in the Middle East. I fully support the will of the government to organize the referendum,” Bourgeois stated.
Commenting on the Region’s move toward establishing an independent state in northern Iraq, he noted, “We should respect the will of people in Kurdistan if, in the referendum, they say yes to independence.”
During President Barzani’s meeting with both Belgian and Flanders officials, only the Kurdistan and Belgian flags were raised without the Iraqi flag which drew the attention of Kurds on social media.
“We thank them. It is a very friendly stance,” President Barzani responded to Kurdistan24 after correspondent Bargasht Akrayi questioned him about the raising of the Kurdistan flag.
The Kurdish delegation led by President Barzani is also expected to meet with other European officials.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany