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We told them frankly that the language of threats is unacceptable and it’s not in the interest of any party. It’s not in the interest of Baghdad to make threats and it’s not in the interest of Erbil to do so, either."

 

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said that his meetings in Baghdad this week with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his deputy for energy affairs, Hussein Shahristani, are part of a process to reach a solution for the Kurdish oil exports and budget. “There is the intention in Baghdad and certainly from our side, too. But this process would not be resolved in a meeting or two,” he warned in an interview with Rudaw. Explaining the delay in the formation of the new Kurdistan Cabinet, he said part of the reason was that this is the first time all parties are talking about joint participation in the Kurdistan Regional Government. “We don't intend to offer a paper and say that this is our final decision. Our attempts are focused on bringing the parties together to reach an understanding,” he said. The full interview follows:

 

Rudaw: What was the outcome of your latest visit to Baghdad to discuss the issues of oil and the Kurdistan Region’s budget?

 

PM Barzani: Our goal is to reach a solution to the oil issue. According to what we see in our meeting with the prime minister and Dr. Shahristani, there is a serious tendency to reach a solution. There is the intention in Baghdad and certainly from our side, too. But this process would not be resolved in a meeting or two. Today, we put forward our proposals for a solution to Baghdad. They will study our proposals, then we will hold another meeting. What's important is, these series of meetings will continue and we hope to reach a deal that would be in the best interest of Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region.

 

Rudaw: Before the visit of the Kurdish delegation to Baghdad, Prime Minister Maliki and his deputy Hussein Shahristani had threatened to cut off Kurdistan Region's budget. Did you discuss this with them?

 

PM Barzani: We told them frankly that the language of threats is unacceptable and it’s not in the interest of any party. It’s not in the interest of Baghdad to make threats and it’s not in the interest of Erbil to do so, either. This is not an issue to be resolved with threats. It needs meetings and negotiations to reach an agreement. I see that they want to find a solution, but I also know that a solution is not easy. Probably another meeting is needed. We hope to reach a result.

 

Rudaw: Is the KRG selling oil without an agreement with Baghdad? The Ministry of Natural Resources has announced that at the end of this month it would sell oil through tenders?

 

PM Barzani: We do our best to reach a deal with Baghdad. Our goal in the Kurdistan Region is to find a mutual understanding with Baghdad about the oil issue.

 

Rudaw: Will you sell oil without Baghdad?

 

PM Barzani: We have put forward our own proposal and we are waiting for them to respond to us officially. We will certainly have more meetings with them and we hope to reach an agreement in the meetings.

 

Rudaw: Will the budget issue be solved if the oil issue is resolved?

 

PM Barzani: The budget is not waiting for us right now, and the current draft budget that has gone to parliament is not acceptable to us. It includes a number of measures against the Kurdistan Region that we strongly oppose. We hope that, through an understanding between Erbil and Baghdad, we will reach a deal that will also lead to the passing of the budget in parliament.

 

Rudaw: Have you given any guarantees to Baghdad that the KRG will not export or sell oil without their approval?

 

PM Barzani: There is no guarantee and no such talk has taken place. No guarantee has been given to anyone. We talked about what would be the implementing mechanism between us and Baghdad.  They will hold their meeting and will respond to us in writing, officially, and we will respond to them in writing, too. We, in the Kurdistan Region, would like to reach an appropriate agreement with Baghdad.

 

Rudaw: Four months have passed since Kurdistan’s parliamentary elections but no government has been formed yet. Why?

 

PM Barzani: First, it’s not four months. We need to count from the day the Electoral Commission declared the results of the polls. The eighth cabinet will be different compared to the other cabinets. In the past we were two parties who with some other groups could decide on the ministerial and other posts. But this is the first time that all political parties want to take part in the government. We try to reach a common ground with the parties. We don't intend to offer a paper and say that this is our final decision. Our attempts are focused on bringing the parties together to reach an understanding. It’s clear that this is not an easy task whether it is about the posts or the government agenda. This means it needs time and we are in touch with all the political parties. We hope to reach a common understanding.

 

Rudaw: When will the cabinet to be formed?

 

PM Barzani: I can't say when the government will be formed. But our meetings and negotiations with all parties continue in earnest in order to reach an agreement.

 

Rudaw: What is the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) position about the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and what will be PUK's participation in the next government? 

 

PM Barzani: We consider the PUK our ally and we support them to take part in the government. They have decided to participate in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

 

Rudaw: How about the post of deputy prime minister? What decision have you made and how many deputies will the prime minister have?

 

PM Barzani: This issue of the post of deputy prime minister or the speaker of the parliament hasn’t been settled yet. These are the points that we are in talks with the other parties about. What I want to say is, the process is not easy. But Kurdistan and Kurdistan's situation needs a united voice of all forces and parties. This collective voice is not that easy to achieve through a number of meetings. It needs time. Our view is to give enough time to reach a common understanding. We want the political parties of the Kurdistan Region to take part in the government -- the PUK, Change Movement (Gorran), the Islamic Union and the Islamic League. We want to form a government where all parties are able to work on the important issues that the Kurdistan Region will face in the next four years.

- See more at: http://rudaw.net/english/interview/20012014#sthash.gSvfwpGZ.dpuf

 

 

 

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