Chancellor Masrour Barzani meets French Ambassador to Iraq ahead of referendum

Chancellor Masrour Barzani received today France’s Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Bruno Aubert, to discuss the referendum in the Kurdistan Region scheduled for September 25th and the next chapter for the country.

During the meeting Chancellor Barzani called on France and its allies to accept the will of the people of the Kurdistan Region, and encourage Baghdad after the referendum to negotiate in good-faith. He said, ‘This referendum will begin a process of dialogue. We welcome talks to reach a managed, amicable agreement.’ He referred to the high-level delegation visiting Baghdad as a sign of Kurdistan Region’s commitment to an open agenda and long-term talks with Baghdad.

Addressing concerns that the referendum distracts the anti-ISIL campaign, Chancellor Barzani said: ‘We remain committed to fighting terrorism. This will be a generational struggle.’ He emphasized the need for the international community to accept change in the Middle East. Chancellor Barzani said, ‘Our right to self-determination is enshrined in the UN Charter and basic, universal principles adopted in the free-world.’

Both officials discussed measures to strengthen the special bond between France and the Kurdistan Region. Ambassador Aubert conveyed concerns on potential risks given the timing of the referendum. He said, ‘France understands the aspirations of the people of Iraqi Kurdistan Region. We don’t oppose your right to a referendum or independence, only the timing. We will continue to be friends of the Kurdish people; it’s part of the story in France.’

The Consul General in Erbil, Mr. Dominique Mas, also attended the meeting.