Germany concerned by Kurds’ decision on independence, FM says

Germany concerned by Kurds’ decision on independence, FM says
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel attends a joint news conference with Libya's Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Taher Siala, in Tripoli, Libya June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
4 years ago

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BERLIN – German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, expressed concerns by his country on Thursday (June 8) against the Kurdish government's decision to hold a referendum on independence on Sept. 25, 2017.

The Kurdistan Region on Wednesday (June 7) announced it would hold a referendum on independence, in a move the central government in Baghdad is likely to oppose strongly.

Gabriel said he is concerned that a move by the Kurdistan Region to declare independence could lead to an escalation of tensions in Iraq.

"We can only warn against one-sided steps on this issue. The unity of Iraq is on the line," Gabriel said as quoted by German media outlets. "Redrawing the lines of the state is not the right way and could exacerbate an already difficult and unstable situation, in Erbil as well as Baghdad."

Gabriel reportedly said that an ambition by Kurds will “reignite conflicts in the disputed areas of Erbil and Baghdad,” urging the Kurdish government to maintain Iraq’s unity and focus on the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) alongside the central government.

"The fight against Islamic State has not yet been won. Only together will it be possible to take the next and perhaps most important steps to deal with the challenges to come," he said.

The Kurdistan Region’s political parties, not including the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) came to an agreement on Wednesday (June 7) to hold the referendum on the region’s independence this year on September 25.

Representatives from the region’s fifteen political parties and the region’s Independent High Electoral Commission held talks during a meeting headed by Masoud Barzani on the referendum, the stalemate in Kurdistan’s Parliament and the political crisis.

Party representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of holding the referendum on September 25, 2017.