ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday reiterated his country’s readiness to mediate issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi Federal Government in light of escalating tensions in the region.
In a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi following a meeting the two leaders held in Paris, Macron said France remained committed to stability and peace in Iraq.
“France is ready to mediate ... and ready to support the efforts of UN envoy Jan Kubis to support national reconciliation, reconstruction, and stability,” he stated.
“We want stability in Iraq and to ensure the safety of the State of Iraq. We support dialogue that emphasizes respect and integrity of Iraq's sovereignty,” Macron said.
France opposed the holding of the referendum and stressed the importance of “preserving unity and Iraq’s [territorial] integrity,” while “recognizing the rights of the Kurdish people.”
The French president pointed out France’s strong and long-standing relationship with the people of the Kurdistan Region but noted he hopes to see national reconciliation in Iraq.
Macron had previously called on both sides to avoid further escalation as Baghdad closed the Region’s airspace and decided to take over border crossings in the aftermath of the referendum.
Abadi arrived in Paris on Wednesday and had stated he would not discuss the results of the referendum, which he repeated was “unconstitutional.” Baghdad has declared that acknowledging the results would be an indirect way of recognizing and legitimizing the Sep. 25 vote.
During the press conference, Abadi restated that the referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region was “in violation of the Constitution of Iraq” and rejected by the Federal Court and the Iraqi parliament.
“We are proud of our Kurdish citizens,” he said. “There are no degrees of citizenship in Iraq,” in reference to the Kurdish leadership’s claims that the people of the Kurdistan Region are treated as second-class citizens.
Abadi affirmed his priority in Iraq remained the defeat of the Islamic State (IS).
“We have to work together for Iraq,” he said. “As we [Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga Forces] did in the battle for Mosul, we have to continue to be united in the disputed areas.”
President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani was also invited to Paris by President Macron, and it was revealed Barzani had accepted the invitation. It is unclear when the meeting is expected to take place.