ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The President of the Kurdistan Region on Wednesday said despite pressure to postpone the Sep. 25 independence referendum, there is no turning back.
Addressing journalists, writers, and artists in Erbil, President Masoud Barzani stated the Kurdistan Region insisted on holding the independence referendum at the scheduled timeline.
Neighboring countries Turkey and Iran, as well as the United States and Iraq, have urged the Region to postpone the historic vote.
US and Iraqi officials argue the independence referendum will distract forces involved in defeating the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.
“The Sep. 25 referendum is for declaring independence, but other steps toward statehood need work,” the President said. “If possible, we will declare independence before Newroz [the Kurdish New Year].”
President Barzani also noted the leadership and political parties in Kurdistan would continue negotiations with Baghdad.
“After 2003, Kurds agreed to remain a part of Iraq on the basis of partnership, but the promise has been violated dozens of times,” President Barzani stated.
He admitted the Kurds’ agreement to join the new Iraq following the removal of the former Iraqi dictatorship in 2003 was a mistake.
“Whether we like it or not, there is a sectarian government currently ruling Baghdad,” President Barzani said. “Democracy and federalism do not exist in Iraq anymore.”
The President hailed the Kirkuk Provincial Council’s decision to join the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum, assuring the components in the city their rights would be guaranteed.
“Kirkuk shall be the city of coexistence between the Kurds, Arabs, Kurds, and Christians,” President Barzani concluded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany