The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region on Monday reiterated a call for dialogue with Baghdad to resolve pending issues, adding military force would not resolve tensions between Erbil and Baghdad.
“We’re ready to handover oil, airports, and all border revenues to Baghdad if the [Federal Government of Iraq] sends the salaries [of KRG employees], the Kurdistan Region’s 17 percent constitutional budget share, and other financial dues,” Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said during a press conference.
He expressed concerns about Iraq’s 2018 budget draft, passed by the Iraqi Council of Ministers on Sunday, where Kurdistan’s federal budget share was decreased from 17 percent to 12.67.
Barzani stated that the KRG wants to resolve issues peacefully through dialogue within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution—an initiative Baghdad has rejected.
He explained that the disputes cannot be solved by use of force, but through constructive and political dialogue between both sides. Prime Minister Barzani also noted history has proven the problems between Erbil and Baghdad cannot be resolved militarily.
The KRG Prime Minister expressed his concerns regarding the Iraqi Council of Ministers approval of the budget bill which was “unilaterally” prepared by the Iraqi Defense Ministry without consulting with the KRG.
He criticized the bill for decreasing the Region’s budget share and insisting on dealing directly with the Kurdistan Region’s provinces rather than the KRG, which is officially recognized in the Iraqi Constitution.
“The Kurdistan Region’s revenue has been decreased by over 50 percent following the [Oct. 16] conflict in Kirkuk,” Barzani said. “It will definitely have its implications.”
He noted the dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad should not be based on “who is strong and who is weak.”
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated following the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum, which the central government labeled unconstitutional and illegal.