iraq (54)

The United Nations supports dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( - Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, yesterday received United Nations Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš and his accompanying delegation.

In the meeting, which was also attended by Quad Talabani, Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Kubiš expressed his satisfaction for the level of cooperation and coordination between the Kurdistan Regional Government institutions and United Nations agencies, and thanked the KRG for the assistance it has so far offered to refugees and internally displaced persons who fled violent repression of the Islamic State terrorist organisation and took refuge in the Kurdistan Region.

Mr. Kubiš also stressed that the United Nations supports KRG's efforts in settling its differences with Baghdad through dialogue, pointing out that they are willing to help the Kurdistan Region in this regard. He reiterated the need for all the parties to commit to the agreement reached between the two sides.

Prime Minister Barzani briefed the UN envoy about the latest developments in the relations between the KRG and Federal Government of Iraq, pointing out that the differences between the two sides, which have been going on since last year, have still not been addressed. Hence the Kurdistan Regional Government has been forced to take other measures to address its own urgent problems, particularly financial ones, occurred as the result of non-abidance of Baghdad by its agreement with the Erbil.

Meantime, Prime Minister Barzani reiterated that the KRG supports dialogue and talks with Baghdad in order to come up with appropriate solutions in the interest of the two sides. He commended the role played by the United Nations in this regard.

PM Barzani and UN Special Representative discuss Baghdad-Kurdistan Region agreement

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( - Kurdistan Region Prime Minister yesterday received United Nations Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš and his accompanying delegation.

The meeting focused on the agreement, signed last December, between Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, and the Federal Government of Iraq on oil export and budget, as well as Iraq’s 2015 Budget Law. It highlighted Kurdistan Region’s commitment to the agreement.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed his concern for the fact that the Federal Government of Iraq has not been honouring its commitment to the agreement with Kurdistan Region.

He pointed out that the agreement was reached following appeal and support from United Nations, United States and United Kingdom. He urged the three sides to play their role and urge Baghdad to meet its obligations under the agreement and the Budget Law.

In another part of the meeting, the two sides emphasised on further cooperation between United Nation agencies and Kurdistan Regional Government, particularly in dealing with possible increase in numbers of internally displaced people.

They reaffirmed the necessity of further commitment of the international community in assisting Kurdistan Region relevant institutions and United Nations agencies, particularly those which work in humanitarian fields.

The two sides also discussed the latest developments in Iraq, the situation in Anbar Province, and the security situation in the region in general. 

Kurdistan Regional Government and Kurdish representatives in Iraqi Parliament and Government discuss relations with Baghdad

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, ( - Kurdistan Regional Government senior officials and Kurdistan Region’s team in Baghdad yesterday held a meeting at the Council of Ministers building in Erbil.

The Kurdistan Regional Government officials presented a comprehensive clarification on the agreement reached between Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal Iraqi government last December on oil export and budgetary issues.

They reaffirmed KRG’s commitment to honour this agreement which became law in 2015’s federal budget.

The Kurdistan Regional Government officials explained the technical constraints which affects the implementation of the agreement as well as a misunderstanding of some terms of the agreement which the Kurdistan Regional Government is working closely with the Federal Government of Iraq to overcome these obstacles and resolve the issues.

They added that there are also some political sides in Iraq that are trying hard to hamper any improvement occur in relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal Government of Iraq.

The role of the Kurdish representatives in the Iraqi parliament and government in ensuring that both sides are committed to the implementation of the agreement between Baghdad and Erbil was highlighted and praised.

In the meeting, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, stated that he was ready to visit Baghdad again in order to find common ground and overcome technical obstacles and misunderstandings.

In this regard he instructed a group of Kurdish ministers in the Federal Government of Iraq to open frank discussions with Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi.

The attendees stressed the importance of the implementation and compliance with the 2015 federal Iraqi budget. The Kurdistan Regional Government officials stated that they request the Iraqi government to deal with the Kurdistan Region and its share in line with what was agreed in this year’s federal budget.

More than one plan on how to pay the salaries of Peshmerga and civil servants were also discussed. They stressed that KRG’s current priority is the provision of salaries for its employees.

It was also decided to hold regular meetings every two months. A committee in charge of coordination between the two sides was formed.

PM Barzani: We are fully committed to the agreement with Baghdad

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, ( - Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani told the press that Kurdistan Regional Government is committed to the agreement reached between Erbil and Baghdad last December on oil export and Kurdistan Region's share in the 2015 federal budget.

In a meeting held yesterday with representatives of media outlets in Kurdistan Region, Prime Minister Barzani highlighted the technical and political problems and obstacles which stood as impediments to the implementation of the budget law.

Prime Minister Barzani stated that the KRG will exert all its efforts to overcome the problems and obstacles that hamper the implementation of the agreement, adding that the Kurdistan Region’s priority is to resolve the outstanding issues with the federal government and the implementation of 2015 budget law. This is in the interest of the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq.

Prime Minister Barzani said, however, if the Iraqi government was not to honour the agreement, the Kurdistan Region will have no other options but to look elsewhere for solutions. He reaffirmed that the Kurdistan Region has so far honoured its obligations towards Baghdad.

Regarding the Kurdistan Region’s oil policy, the Prime Minister stressed that it is in line with Iraqi  federal constitution and that the Kurdistan Region will use all its constitutional rights regarding the oil sector and will not waive its constitutional rights.

He told the press that Baghdad is important for the Kurdistan Region not only in oil field but also in trade, security, military and economic cooperation as well as many other areas, and for this, he is ready to visit Baghdad to find longterm solutions for all the issues.

The meeting with the press was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani, KRG Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Culture, Khalid Doski, Minister of Planning, Ali Sindi and the Minister of Finance and Economy, Rebaz Muhammad.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani highlighted KRG plans on how to address the problems that have emerged as the result of the financial crisis and the war against the Islamic State terrorist organisation, also known as ISIS, in addition to the large numbers of refugees and displaced people who fled ISIS violent repression and took refuge in the Kurdistan Region. He said that the government is confident that the plans to combat these problems will succeed.

The KRG Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Ashti Hawrami briefed the press about the technical aspects of the agreement with the Federal Government of Iraq, reiterating that as stipulated in the agreement, oil is being exported to the Turkish Ceyhan port on a daily basis.

PM Barzani: “We have set a strategy. It’s time to open a new page and move past the language of threats.”

Baghdad, Iraq, ( - Within three days of arrival in Baghdad, the Kurdistan Regional Government delegation headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, concluded an agreement with the Federal Government of Iraq. Prior to leaving Baghdad, back to Erbil yesterday, Prime Minister Barzani spoke with the media about the meetings and results of the negotiations.

The KRG Prime Minister highlighted the meetings of the past two days, saying, “During the past two days we have been here in Baghdad in order to address issues between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad.  We conducted several meetings with the Iraqi Prime Minister, the Oil Minister, and other ministers. Different teams focused on different negotiations. We completed our visit today.”

Speaking about the conduct and atmosphere at the meetings the Prime Minister said, “I would like to say the meetings were generally positive. We saw a real desire by the Iraqi Prime Minister, the Iraqi Oil Minister, and all other ministers in Prime Minister Abadi’s government to resolve important issues with the Kurdistan Region. I want to emphasize and reiterate that our preference from day one was to resolve all issues through dialogue.  We preferred this option and believe it is the best option.”

Regarding the agreements, Prime Minister Barzani said, “After the former Iraqi Prime Minister unilaterally cut the share of the Kurdistan Region from the Iraqi budget we have attempted to resolve the issue through dialogue.  Fortunately, we reached an agreement with Prime Minister Abadi and his team on a number of issues.  We believe the agreement is transparent and serves the interests of both the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad. Both sides came out of these negotiations successfully."

Regarding the details of the meetings, the Prime Minister said, “The agreement is as follows: The KRG will deliver 250,000 barrels of oil per day from oilfields in the Kurdistan Region to Baghdad, and we will assist them in exporting Kirkuk oil. In turn, the Federal Government of Iraq will provide the Kurdistan Region 17 percent share of the federal budget. We emphasized that the amount received in the past was never 17 percent, it was always less.” 

On the issue of the Peshmerga forces dues which was one of the main unresolved issues, Prime Minister Barzani said, “Prime Minister Abadi offered his respect and gratitude to the Peshmerga forces, especially in the struggle and sacrifices they have been making on the battlefield fighting against ISIS terrorism. Baghdad agreed to allocate 1 trillion 200 billion Iraqi Dinars for the Peshmerga.”

Prime Minister Barzani explained details of the agreement, saying, “The current agreement is not the final agreement, but we believe it to be a good start. There are other issues we should discuss in the coming period and we hope to reach agreement on them, too. This is a good start for both sides and, hopefully, we will resolve all outstanding problems and obstacles within a period of six months or so.

“I can say that, in general, we are pleased with this agreement and consider it a gain for all parties. Given the problems between Erbil and Baghdad, we can say we have come a long way.  What we have seen this time in Baghdad is a desire by the Iraqi Prime Minister to tackle these problems. This encourages us to move forward faster. As I said, our priority is to address and resolve our problems with Baghdad.”

Regarding external pressure, particularly from the United States and other parties on the KRG delegation to reach agreement with Baghdad, the Prime Minister said, “There was no pressure on us.  What we have achieved was through the desire of both Baghdad and Erbil to reach a mutually satisfying agreement. The United States, United Kingdom, and the United Nations role is to encourage both sides to negotiate to reach an agreement. They did not interfere in the negotiations and did not exert any pressure, even in the organization of the meetings. As you know, Iraqi Oil Minister Dr. Adil Abdul Mehdi visited Erbil recently and met with Deputy Prime Minister Mr Qubad Talabani and I.  We agreed then to visit Baghdad to begin these talks.”


Regarding the amount allocated by the Iraqi Government for the Peshmerga forces, whether it was taken from the Kurdistan Region’s portion of the federal budget, Prime Minister Barzani said, “The amount agreed for the Peshmerga forces will be from outside the Kurdistan Region’s share of the budget, meaning it will not be from the 17 percent allocated to the Kurdistan Region. They agreed the Peshmerga forces are part of the Iraqi defense system. This agreement is very important because after 11 years of negotiations Baghdad agreed to the proposal to allocate a portion of the national defense budget to the Peshmerga forces.”

In response to a question, KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani emphasized, "the agreement reached between the Federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government works in favor of all sides and I believe that everybody will support this agreement."

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the civil servants, businessmen, and contractors in the Kurdistan Region for their patience with salary and payment delays. He said, "We have already received a payment and are receiving another one.  We hope to overcome the issue of public service salaries by January."   

Regarding exporting oil from Kirkuk oilfields through the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline, the KRG Prime Minister explained that, practically speaking, Kirkuk oil can flow only through the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline. "We have agreed to export 300 thousand barrels per day. The technical process may start this week."

Prime Minister Barzani also noted, "the process of exporting Kirkuk oil through the Region’s pipeline is in the interest of both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. He said the Region would not charge the Iraqi federal government for the export. The Region works within the framework of the Constitution of federal Iraq. This gives the Kurdistan Region opportunity to coordinate approaches to oil export and solve issues without stress." 

Regarding the oil exported by the Kurdistan Region independently, the Prime Minister said, “We continue to export oil that we have, but we will first use it to meet the Region’s domestic fuel requirements. We will export the rest after meeting domestic demand."     

Regarding the agreement between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, Prime Minister Barzani explained, "The budget law is for one year. When we came from Erbil we knew that we will not resolve all issues in a meeting or two. We thought our visit called for a strategy to resolve the issues.  We have now set the strategy. The agreement we have now concluded will open the door to settle all issues within six months to a year.

“What is important is that we managed to implement two important things. First, the sanctions imposed in Iraq’s general budget law on the Kurdistan Region’s share of the national budget have been removed. Second, we have reached agreement on oil export, the Kurdistan Region’s budget, and the Peshmerga forces’ budget.

"The other issues are article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, incentives for Peshmerga forces, and other outstanding issues for which a period of time will be decided for their settlement. There will be talks also about what is owed to the Kurdistan Region from the 2014 budget, which is 16 trillion Iraqi dinars, as determined by the Iraq Ministry of Finance. All these issues cannot be solved in one meeting, more meetings are needed."

While emphasizing that all differences cannot be solved in one visit or meeting, Prime Minister Barzani reiterated that the agreement concluded with Baghdad paves the way for resolving the issues within six months to one year.

Regarding project loans and mortgages for citizens, Prime Minister Barzani reiterated his government’s commitment to continue support for loans and mortgages.

Regarding guarantees the Iraqi Government will not cut the Kurdistan Region’s share of the national budget again, the Prime Minister explained, "There are no guarantees that the Iraqi government will not cut the Kurdistan Region’s share of the budget. We should not forget, however, that if they cut our share, we hold a key to their oil export. We do not, however, wish to talk in such language, we hope this language is over. We wish to open a new page and avoid using the language of threats."

Regarding Peshmerga forces participating with the Iraqi army in liberating ISIS-controlled territory, the Prime Minister explained, "The Peshmerga forces are now fighting on a 1,100 kilometer-long frontline. Iraq’s Prime Minister lauded their efforts. In fighting a global terrorist organization, what the Peshmerga forces are achieving is most significant and serves the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and the whole world." 

Regarding the Iraqi government’s commitment to implementing the agreement, the Prime Minister said, "the agreement has been approved by the Iraqi Council of Ministers and it has become a decree. The Iraqi government has expressed its support to the agreement. On our part we are implementing the agreement. In Baghdad, we observed willingness. We would like to take every opportunity to reach a solution that serves both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. However, to what extent it will actually be implemented, we will have to see that later."








KRG delegation partakes in a roundtable meeting with donor countries

Baghdad, Iraq ( – The Government of Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the United Nations agencies held a roundtable meeting with the donor countries and diplomats based in Baghdad to encourage international community to provide support for Iraq’s internally displaced persons (IDP).

Karim Sinjari, Minister of Interior, Ali Sindi, Minister of Planning, and Falah Mustafa, Head of Department of Foreign Relation represented KRG in the meeting, which was chaired by Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Construction and Services and attended by Iraq’s ministers of foreign affairs, finance, migration and displacement, representatives of UN agencies as well as 40 ambassadors.

Deputy Prime Mnister Mutlaq said, “Deterioration of security in Iraq, which is mainly caused by the attacks of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has resulted in the displacement of nearly two million people.”

He added, “Addressing the needs of the IDPs is out of the capacity of Iraq. We are facing harsh financial challenges and sharp decline of oil price has exacerbated the situation. Iraq is in need of $5 billion to address the needs of IDPs and their return to their areas.”

Iraq’s finance minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, gave an overview of the financial crisis facing Iraq and announced that the federal government has agreed to allocate $850 million for the ministry of migration and displacement as part of the 215 budget.

According to the KRG Ministry of Planning and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 47 percent of all Iraq’s 2 million displaced are now in the Kurdistan Region. The rest of the IDPs are spread throughout Iraq having fled conflicts in Anbar, Ninewa, Diyala and Salah al-Din governorates. As people continue to flee the violence, the latest count indicates that some 946,266 Iraqis (157,711 families) have sought sanctuary in the region since the beginning of the year. This represents an increase of 53,526 individuals since 1 September.

KRG minister of Planning discussed the difficulties facing the KRG in addressing the needs of IDPs in the Region. He said, “Hosting of IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is placing a huge burden on the region’s social services, as well as its financial resources, which is becoming unsustainable.”

“This humanitarian emergency is far from over and with the winter months the challenges are becoming greater by the day. The partnership between the Government of Iraq, the KRG and the international community is fundamental to address the response, but this is not enough: fresh funds are now needed to avert this crisis from becoming a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Jacqueline Badcock, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Commenting on the meeting, Minister Mustafa said, “The large number of IDPs in the Region has stretched our infrastructure and social services to the limit. This was a good opportunity for KRG to be present in Baghdad to address members of international community in highlighting the plight of IDPs.” 


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