Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Kurdistan Region will not postpone a September 25th vote on its independence from Iraq even for a minute, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani was quoted saying Tuesday.
“We will endure anything, but will not postpone the referendum even for a single minute,” Shafaq News website quoted him telling Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen and Armenian community representatives in Erbil.
“Some say the referendum does not serve Iraq’s and the region’s best, we tell them that postponing the referendum does not serve Kurds’ best neither,” he said, assuring that the poll would not affect Iraq’s war against the Islamic State.
Kurdistan gained autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of conflicts.
Since it set the schedule for the controversial poll, Erbil has stressed it was not backtracking on the plan.
Baghdad regularly argued the move was untimely as the country struggles to drive out Islamic State militants who had taken over large areas of the country since 2014.
On Tuesday, Russian Sputnik agency quoted Iraqi National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayyad saying his country still does not recognize the legitimacy of the referendum.
Barzani’s remarks come a few days after a Kurdish delegation ended futile talks on the referendum in Baghdad. Barzani and other Kurdish politicians were quoted recently saying that the region could have called the poll off had Baghdad offered concessions.
Kurdistan has always pressed Baghdad to settle debts worth up to USD12 billion, and to resolve differences over territories where sovereignty is disputed, most notably oil-rich Kirkuk province.