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Published On: Thu, Apr 20th, 2017

German Foreign Minister and Kurdish President Barzani exchanged Courtesies

nsnbc : German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visited President Masoud Barzani in Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Region. Barzani thanked Germany for the help it received in recent years while Gabriel praised the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), among others, for its efforts in the fight against ISIS and for taking in 1.8 million refugees and internally-displaced persons (IDPs) over the past few years.

Sigmar Gabriel_Masoud Barzani_Erbil_Iraq_Apr 2017During a joint press conference Masoud Barzani said “On behalf of the Kurdistan nation and Peshmerga, I would like to thank Germany who reached out to us during the (times of) hardship when we faced ISIS. We also thank German officers who helped the Peshmerga by providing training”.

For his part, Sigmar Gabriel praised the KRG for the fight against ISIS and for sheltering refugees, saying “The Kurdistan Region has offered unprecedented assistance to the refugees. What Kurdistan has presented in the fight against ISIS and receiving refugees should be recognized”.

Gabriel added that it was the bravery of the Peshmerga and their efficiency in fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State that prompted Germany to supply them with weapons. Germany has been a main supplier of weapons to Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces since the start of the war against ISIS nearly three years ago, especially providing Milan anti-tank missiles which have proven effective against car bombs on the frontlines.

Commenting on mechanisms to deal with a post-ISIS phase, implying the creation of an independent Kurdish state, Barzani said “the meeting was positive and friendly”. Gabriel noted that Germany” pays much tribute to the Peshmerga and Kurdish nation.” During the press conference on Thursday reporters also raised the question of a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.

“Those criticizing the referendum have not understood the situation well,” said Barzani, he did not provide further details as to who has criticized the process. Both the co-governing Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the opposition Gorran party demand that the referendum must be approved by the currently suspended parliament. Irregardless, Barzani said that “the decision on referendum has been made and parties have currently engaged to set up the timeframe and the next phases.”

Referring to those who oppose his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) line as well as to the federal government in Baghdad, Barzani added “They might not have understood the situations very well. Holding a referendum is intended to communicate the opinions of the entire Kurdistan nation to the world. This is a process for which we will be talking to other parties, especially Baghdad. This doesn’t mean we will be adopting the path of violence. Rather, we will be choosing the path of peace and dialogue. Mutual understanding and reaching a result which the nation of Kurdistan approves will contribute further to the interests of the region. It will promote the interests of the Kurds, Arabs and other nations in the region further.”

The German Foreign Minister commented on the issue of the referendum saying “It is an internal matter as it is between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. … This is something they decide on.” He added that he had told both the representatives from the federal government in Baghdad as well as the KRG that Germany’s primary interest is the stability of Iraq and the region.

Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Erbil on Wednesday, where he was received by Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. “I would like to thank you for the warm hospitality you showed to us with being open to the discussions we held together,” Gabriel said during Thursday’s press conference. In Baghdad on Wednesday, Gabriel said his government would continue its support for Iraq, including humanitarian aid.

CH/L – nsnbc 20.04.2017

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