President Barzani claims victory in independence referendum
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – President Masoud Barzani has claimed the victory for ‘yes’ vote in the independence referendum as he delivered a televised speech to the nation. He called on Baghdad and neighboring countries to respect the will of millions of people who voted yes on Monday.
In his first speech after the referendum, the Kurdistan president reiterated what he had said in rallies across the Region in the days leading up to the vote – stressing the broken relationship with Baghdad claiming the central government had violated the constitution and their partnership, while maintaining that the only way forward is through dialogue.
Addressing Baghdad, he said, “There is no need to be angry and issue threats.”
He said the central government must respect the will of the Kurdistani nation, remember their long history that has seen ups and downs, and “Instead of issuing threats and punishment, come in a friendly way to start a serious dialogue and give enough time to dialogue so that we become two good neighbors to each other. We think that dialogue in every case is the only way to reach a better future for both of us.”
As Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered Erbil hand over control of airports and oil revenues, Barzani said sanctions and threats will not affect Kurdistan.
“Any sanction imposed on the Kurdistani nation cannot be more effective than the Anfal, chemical attacks, mass murder, and budget cut,” he said.
Addressing neighbouring countries, Barzani asked them to assist in resolving issues between Erbil and Baghdad rather than issuing threats. He stressed that Kurdistan has been a factor for stability and security for 25 years and will remain so.
Addressing the international community, he reaffirmed Kurdistan’s commitment to the war against terror and willingness to help refugees and persons displaced by war.
Addressing the people of Kurdistan, he thanked voters for their resilience in voting yes, passing a “big milestone” for the nation.
“You, the people of Kurdistan, you did not allow your will to be broken, and now, after your yes-vote that was a yes for independence and no to Anfal, chemical attacks and another genocide, we have entered a new stage,” Barzani said.
“What day is more pleasant, greater and more sacred than the day in which one declares the victory of the will of one’s nation to determine their fate freely?” he asked.
He reiterated the Kurdistan state seeks to be “a parliamentary, federal, democratic and civil system” that is “an example in justice, equality, transparency and democracy on the basis of trust and benefitting from past experiences – a governance worthy of the trust and approval of our nation.”
“Although some difficulties might lie ahead, I am sure there is a bright horizon ahead of us, which is the most important,” he concluded.