ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (ERBIL) – Kurds have the right to decide on their future, including the decision to declare independence or remain a part of Iraq, said a European politician on Friday.
In an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, Geert Bourgeois, the Minister-President of Flanders, stated that he is not very familiar with Iraq’s federal system but believes that there is a difference between Belgian Flanders and Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. He added that fewer laws are imposed on Flanders compared to the Kurdistan Region.
Bourgeois also mentioned that Kurdistan has become one of the most stable, safe and democratic regions in the Middle East. He pointed to the unity of the people of different ethnic and religious groups in the Region and their ability to live in harmony and peace.
He noted that the people of Flanders and Belgium were shocked after the March 22 Brussels attacks by the Islamic State (IS) that killed 32 people. Additionally, Bourgeois expressed the appreciation of Flanders’ people to Peshmerga.
“We definitely respect the efforts and sacrifices of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Da’esh,” he continued, using the Arabic pejorative for IS.
“Peshmerga have been demanding weapons from the international coalition and European countries, and the world should respect their needs as they are fighting on behalf of humanity in the first front against Da’esh,” Bourgeois added.
The Minister-President previously visited Peshmerga front lines in southwestern Erbil and was impressed by the high morale and bravery of the Peshmerga. “I was captivated by Peshmarga’s optimism on the front lines. They are a very effective ground force battling and defeating Da’esh,” he stated.
Moreover, he touched upon the Kurdish referendum that is planned for 2016. “I believe Kurds have the right to decide on their future and self-determination. Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has told me recently that they are in dialogue with Baghdad regarding the referendum,” he concluded.
Last week, Bourgeois met Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil. They discussed the latest developments on the front lines and the financial crisis that has faced the Kurdistan Region in particular and Iraq in general.
Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany