Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani addressing a gathering of minority groups in Erbil on Tuesday. Photo: Hemin Hawrami/Twitter
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An independent Kurdistan state will be for all the people who call this land home, working in partnership together, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani told a gathering of minority groups on Tuesday, adding that they are all free to choose what they want for their future.
“What we say is not to create a Kurdish national state at all – that is impossible. But rather, a state for the people of Kurdistan including Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Armenians, and all the components,” said Barzani, addressing minority groups in Erbil’s Saad Abdullah Hall.
This would be guaranteed through the inclusion of minority groups in the process of drafting a constitution for Kurdistan, he said.
“And you, be sure, we are giving you this certainty that in drafting the constitution, you will participate and whatever guarantees that make you feel confident to live together, is our intention, too,” he said.
He said the future system of Kurdistan will be federalism, with new provinces created.
The Kurdistan Region currently consists of four provinces: Duhok, Erbil, Sulaimani, and Halabja. Many minorities live in Kurdistani, or disputed, areas that are expected to take part in the referendum, including: Shingal, Nineveh Plains, Makhmour, Kirkuk, and Khanaqin.
In a meeting on Monday with civil society representatives, Barzani advocated for a decentralized system of governance in Kurdistan, saying, “We also should have a federal system in Kurdistan, where it is up to every province to conduct its own affairs. It should be a very open system. It should not be a central system in any way.”
Speaking to the gathered minority groups on Tuesday, Barzani highlighted solidarity between Kurds and minorities in Iraq, who have both suffered under Baghdad. By pursuing independence via the September 25 referendum, he said it is their intention to prevent future suffering. Current dissatisfaction with Baghdad should not happen in a future Kurdistan stated, he said, where “we have to be partners and brothers with each other.”
The Kurdish president said he was open to reviewing the national anthem and flag of Kurdistan in order to ensure the symbols of the nation reflect the reality of the people living there.
In his meeting on Monday, he had said, “I do not like the term minority. Even if they were 10 people, they are different, their language is different, their culture is different. But we are together, we are brothers and live in this country together, whether Turkmens, Chaldeans, Assyrians, all of them.”
Addressing the gathering on Tuesday, he said, “Coexistence is an old culture in this country and we are proud of it.”
The decision to join with Kurdistan or not is ultimately up to the minority groups, Barzani said. “If you do not like to be with us, you are free. It is up to you – any decision you make on your fate.”
Vote or don’t vote, you are free, the president stressed.
Photos by Rudaw