Members of European Parliament urge Baghdad to respect Kurdistan Region, begin dialogue

Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France © Rama

Members of the European Parliament on Wednesday called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to begin a dialogue with the Kurdistan Region to resolve all outstanding issues.

In a joint letter to the Iraqi PM, Members of the European Parliament addressed the ongoing dispute between Erbil and Baghdad following the Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum.

The Members stressed that the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) signaled a “natural moment” for the beginning “of a conversation between Erbil and Baghdad as to its future relationship.”

Tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government have considerably increased following Kurdistan’s independence referendum.

The historic vote received widespread support for secession from Iraq, but Baghdad refused to recognize the results and instead responded by imposing collective punitive measures against Kurdistan, including the use of military force in disputed areas.

The KRG has shown its flexibility, offering to freeze the results of the referendum, but Baghdad demands a full annulment as well as the handover of airports and border crossings as a precondition for the start of negotiations.

The Members of the European Parliament said they were “alarmed” at Baghdad’s decision “to impose a number of sanctions” on Kurdistan.

“It seems clear to us the KRG is keen to engage with the central government in Baghdad and to find peaceful solutions to the country’s shared challenges,” the letter added.

The Members highlighted the sacrifices made by Kurdish Peshmerga forces during the battle with IS as well as the Kurdistan Region’s sheltering of nearly 1.8 million displaced persons and refugees.

The joint letter addressed Iraq’s proposal to reduce the Region’s budget share from 17 percent to 12 percent, stressing the plan “heavily [restricts] funding to the KRG” and is “of immediate concern.”

“We call on your government to engage in positive and constructive talks with the authorities in Erbil, in order to de-escalate the current tensions,” the Members wrote to Abadi.

“We believe that [an Iraqi] government statement underlining its commitment to the integrity of the [Kurdistan Region] would be a welcomed confidence-building measure,” the letter concluded.

Source: Kurdistan24

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