Artsakh Welcomes Iraqi Kurdish Referendum

Iraqi Kurds fly Kurdish flags during an event to urge people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 22, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Iraqi Kurds fly Kurdish flags during an event to urge people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 22, 2017. (Photo: AFP)

Iraqi Kurds fly Kurdish flags during an event to urge people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 22, 2017. (Photo: AFP)

STEPANAKERT, Artsakh Republic – The Artsakh Foreign Ministry has welcomed the September 25 referendum that was held in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“We welcome the holding of a referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan as an act of realization of the right of peoples to self-determination and independently choosing their own path of development enshrined in the UN Charter and in a number of fundamental international documents,” read part of the statement by the Information and Public Relations Department of Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Artsakh.

The statement continued to say that the Artsakh Foreign Ministry hopes that the situation of the region will be settled through peaceful means in order to instill stability.

Meanwhile, the Armenian Foreign Ministry expressed hope that authorities in the region avoid conflict in order to peacefully resolve the issue.

“We hope that Iraqi authorities, Government of Iraqi Kurdistan region will avoid escalation and find solution to existing issues,” tweeted the Foreign Ministry of Armenia.

The referendum in Kurdistan was also welcomed on September 26 by Knyaz Hasanov, the leader of Armenia’s small Kurdish community according to RFE/RL’s Armenian service. Hasanov, who was elected to the Armenian parliament in April, made clear at the same time that he will not press the authorities in Yerevan to recognize the vote and its outcome.

“Every state has its own interests and Armenia too has its own interests,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Armenia has a good rapport with Iran, which opposes Kurdistan’s independence.”

“I’m not going to raise the issue of recognizing Kurdistan,” Hasanov said. “It’s up to the Armenian authorities, not me, to decide.”

Yerevan also maintains cordial relations with both the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq. It formally decided in March to open an Armenian consulate general in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. In February, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian held fresh talks with Massoud Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish leader, on the sidelines of an international security conference in Germany.

Over 92 percent of voters in the September 25 referendum voted for Kurdish independence according to the electoral commission in charge of the vote.  Kurdish leaders have stated that the “Yes” vote will give them the directive to start negotiations on secession with the Iraqi government in Baghdad and neighboring nations.

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  1. Gabriel said:

    I’m disappointed to see Artsakh taking sides in an internal affair of Iraq by supporting the Kurdish referendum. We’re all for self determination when it’s done for that purpose only. However, the timing of the referendum is suspicious when Iraq is still fighting ISIS and when Israel has rushed to support the independence so she can have a foothold on the border with Iran to eventually fight Iran. The ISIS project has failed to create statelets favoring the Israeli security. So now Israel and the US are trying to implement Plan B by supporting the Kurdish referendum to create a state which is pro-Israel on the border with Iran. I hope Artsakh and Armenia have a sensitive strategic position vis-à-vis the Kurdish question in Iraq.

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