ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdistan Region President praised his government's relationship with Germany, stating that German high-ranked official's visit to Erbil further strengthened bilateral ties.
On Wednesday, following an unannounced visit to Baghdad, the German Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel visited the Kurdistan Region and met with the Region’s top officials.
On Thursday, Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region, and Mr. Gabriel held a joint press conference at the Presidential palace in Pirmam.
During the press conference, President Barzani thanked Germany and its military for supporting and training the Peshmerga forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Asked about holding the independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region, President Barzani said that the decision to hold a referendum has been made, and political parties are working on forming a committee that would decide on the date.
"The purpose of the referendum is to convey the message of the people of Kurdistan to the world," President Barzani said, adding that the dialogue with Baghdad will continue.
"This will not be through violent. We will choose peace and dialogue," he clarified.
Regarding the referendum, Gabriel stated that it is an internal matter and has to be resolved with Iraq, saying that Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi has said that he understands the demand of the people of Kurdistan and he is not against it.
Gabriel said that Germans pay respect to the people of the Kurdistan Region not only because of the war against IS but also for all the hospitality shown in supporting a large number of refugees and the Iraqi displaced people.
The German official added that what Kurds have done for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees is of importance to them and the whole world, stating that Germany and Europe admire the Kurdistan Region for sheltering a large number of displaced people in a small region.
German has shipped weapons for the Peshmerga, Gabriel emphasized, stating that the fight against IS extremists by the Peshmerga forces is also the fight to defend the security of the Germany.
Editing by Ava Homa