EU Ambassador to Iraq Supports Dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad
European Union Ambassador in Iraq hoped the Kurdistan Region and Iraq resolve the outstanding issues between both sides through dialogue.
A statement by the Kurdistan Region’s Presidency (KRP) on Monday (October 9) said Masoud Barzani received an EU delegation in Erbil, headed by Ambassador Ramon Blecua, to discuss several issues including the relations between Erbil and Baghdad as well as the Kurdish referendum. Ambassador Blecua expressed readiness to “play an effective role in mediation between Erbil and Baghdad,” the KRP’s statement read.
The ambassador also noted the “need to be more united as we collectively face the terrorists of the Islamic State,” the statement said.
Tensions between the KRG and the central government hit a high in 2015, after officials from both sides accused each other of failing to abide by the terms of an oil revenue sharing deal struck by officials in December 2014.
Barzani, for his part, said the Kurdistan Region is “fully aware" that the referendum held on September 25 for independence should be followed by talks with Baghdad.
He added “the Kurdistan independence referendum was an expression of the will of the people of the Kurdistan Region.” Barzani noted that “all the outstanding issues can be resolved through dialogue and talks with the government of Iraq,” the KRP statement further said.
Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in a referendum on Monday (September 25), defying neighboring countries who fear the vote could lead to renewed conflict in the region.
An international ban on air travel to the Kurdistan Region went into effect on September 29 in retaliation against a vote for independence. All foreign airlines suspended flights to and from Erbil and Sulaimani, obeying a notice from the government in Baghdad, which controls Iraqi air space. Domestic flights are still allowed, so travelers are expected to travel to Kurdistan mostly via Baghdad's airport, which will likely come under strain from the extra traffic.