ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – In a statement on Saturday, the United Kingdom Foreign Office declared its refusal to support the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming independence referendum.
“The referendum risks increasing instability in the region when the focus should be on defeating Da’esh,” said a Foreign Office spokesperson, using the Arabic pejorative for the Islamic State (IS).
“That is why the UK has proposed new talks between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Government of Iraq on the future of the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad,” the press release read.
The statement added talks should be “without preconditions, time-limited, address all the issues of dispute between the two parties, and be backed by the international community.”
The spokesperson concluded that the UK called on the KRG to seize this opportunity and enter into serious negotiations with Baghdad.
The statement comes a day after the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani announced the vote would be held on time, despite outside pressure.
During his speech at a referendum rally held in Amedi in the Dohuk Province, President Barzani said he had a meeting on Thursday with the US, UK, and UN envoys in Dohuk where they asked for the vote to be postponed.
He mentioned that the Kurdistan Region had not heard an alternative yet to delay the referendum, reiterating the vote would be held on time.
President Barzani has repeatedly stated there is no turning back on holding the referendum unless the Kurds receive a better alternative for achieving independence.
“The people of the Kurdistan Region will give legitimacy to the referendum, not the outsiders,” he added.
“Where is your call and support of democracy? Human rights? We expected you to reward us with independence after Peshmerga destroyed Da’esh,” the President said in response to the countries who oppose the vote.
“Since they show opposition to that, we will not count for their speeches and decisions either,” he continued, adding that independence is earned, not obtained as a gift from other countries.
By the end of 2019, three independence referenda are scheduled to be held: Catalonia, New Caledonia, and Bougainville.
These three are not isolated events. In fact, in the past century, a considerable number of sub-state entities have held independence-related referenda.
Since 1991, 53 independence-related votes have been held, for a total of 105.
Between 1905 and 1991, 52 sub-state entities held independence-related polls.
Although the Iraqi Parliament has disagreed with the Region’s referendum, it is noteworthy that among the 53 referenda since 1991, 26 were without consent from the national state.
As such, Iraq’s disagreement would not act as a legal barrier to the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 referendum.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany