Kurdistan Region wants ‘best relations’ with Baghdad, PM Barzani tells foreign diplomats

The relations between Erbil and Baghdad are shaped by various disputes, ranging from the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget, land claims, and more.
author_image Halgurd Sherwani
Prime Minister Masrour Barzani speaks during a meeting with foreign diplomats and representatives in the Kurdistan Region, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo: KRG)
Prime Minister Masrour Barzani speaks during a meeting with foreign diplomats and representatives in the Kurdistan Region, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo: KRG)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In a meeting with foreign diplomats and representatives on Wednesday in Erbil, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said the autonomous region has always worked toward having the “best relations” with Baghdad and is committed to reaching a fair deal on the outstanding issues.

In a meeting with the foreign diplomatic corpses based in Kurdistan, Prime Minister Barzani discussed several subjects with the diplomats, including the upcoming Iraqi elections, security in the region, the Kurdistan Region’s domestic situations, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ninth Cabinet’s reforms, and the relations between the regional and federal government, a statement from the PM’s office said.

“The Kurdistan Region has always worked toward having the best relations with Baghdad and solve all the issues fundamentality and on a constitutional basis,” Prime Minister Barzani said in the meeting, adding that the KRG delegation would return to Baghdad “next week for more talks.”

The relations between Erbil and Baghdad are shaped by various disputes, ranging from the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget, land claims, compensation of Kurdish families and survivors of genocides, the financial entitlements of Kurdish farmers, and more.

Both governments have engaged in rounds of negotiations and talks to settle their differences and reach a deal on all the lingering issues between them. Recently, the KRG’s Deputy Prime Minister announced that a deal was reached on Iraq’s 2021 budget law.

The Kurdistan Region “has implemented all of its commitments toward reaching a deal that is in the interest of all the Iraqi citizens,” PM Barzani told the diplomats.

“The issue of salary should be avoided from the political rivalries as it shall not be used as a pressure card against the Kurdistan Region and the policy of starvation be implemented against the Region’s employees,” Barzani elaborated.

On Monday, the United Kingdom consul general in Erbil told Kurdistan 24 that his country wants to see a “fair deal” struck between Erbil and Baghdad on the outstanding issues between the two governments, particularly the fiscal issues.

Reform process

In another part of the meeting, Prime Minister Barzani highlighted his cabinet’s program, which is intended to diversify the economy, boost the sources of revenue, decrease expenditures, rearrangement of taxations, and facilitation of domestic and foreign investments, according to the statement.

“Our plans to increase internal non-oil and gas revenue include organizing and enforcing the existing tax laws. We are also digitalizing important parts of the government to provide scrutiny of our public expenditure, eliminate unnecessary spending, and modernize the public sector,” Barzani said.

The prime minister also emphasized that the Kurdistan Region is an “important factor of stability in the region and seeks friendly relations with neighboring countries and develop relations with the international community,” the statement noted.

Iraq’s upcoming elections

Prime Minister Barzani conveyed the KRG’s stance for the upcoming Iraqi elections, stating that the Kurdistan Region wants “to see a fair and transparent process with international observers and monitors, including from the UN.”

On Tuesday, the Iraqi Council of Ministers voted unanimously during a session to postpone its upcoming election this year from early June to the newly-scheduled date of Oct. 10, 2021.

Security

Moreover, the Kurdish leader underlined the “importance of continued cooperation and coordination with the Kurdistan Region to combat the threat of terrorism,” according to the statement.

“ISIS remains a serious, ongoing threat,” Barzani tweeted following the meeting.

Prime Minister Barzani also discussed the situation of the Yezidi-majority town of Sinjar (Shingal) with the diplomatic attendees, stating that the “Sinjar Agreement is at the center of our efforts to support the Yezidi people and we call for its full implementation.”

In early October 2020, the Federal Government of Iraq and the KRG announced they had reached an agreement to restore and normalize the situation in the Shingal area, where competing armed groups are active, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The agreement involves understandings on security, civil administration, reconstruction and service rehabilitation, and the return of IDPs.

“The parties must live up to their commitments to facilitate the dignified return of displaced families to their ancestral homeland,” Barzani tweeted. 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany