Issues between Erbil and Baghdad ‘more political’, says KRG deputy PM

KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani speaks to lawmakers at the Kurdistan Parliament, October 5, 2020. (Azhi Omer)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said on Monday that issues between Baghdad and Erbil are “more political, not financial”.

The Kurdistan Parliament held a session on Monday to hear from KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, Talabani and Minister of Finance and Economy about reform and economic crisis in the Region.

Talabani said the Region’s officials visited to tell Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi who took office in May that the Kurdistan Region was ready to resolve issues with Baghdad.

“But a legal vacuum occurred this year because the budget proposal wasn’t approved, so we could not indicate the Kurdistan Region’s financial entitlements and reach an agreement on them,” Talabani added.

“We are within the framework of a country that has many problems, financial and economic problems. It also has security and political issues. Iraq’s issues are more and greater than the issues in the Kurdistan Region in size. We cannot say solve the issues of the Kurdistan Region and send our financial entitlements, and Iraq’s issues are not related to us,” he continued.

“The issues between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi government are more political than issues of oil and border crossings. The Iraqi street thinks that the Kurdistan Region is the reason of Iraq’s issues.”

The deputy prime minister further said Iraq has a constitution and talks with the federal government would be on the basis on the Iraqi constitution.

“That constitution is now the roadmap of governing Iraq, and we will not abandon our constitutional rights,” Talabani noted.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil further deteriorated after the Iraqi Council of Ministers led by former caretaker prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi ordered the finance ministry to halt sending salaries of civil servants to the Kurdistan Region in April. A document signed by the secretary-general of the Iraqi Council of Ministers stated that the KRG had not committed to an oil agreement reached between Baghdad and Erbil in 2019.

In November 2019, Erbil and Baghdad reached a deal to resolve their ongoing disagreement over oil, after Erbil agreed to export 250,000 barrels of oil per day through Baghdad to Turkey’s Ceyhan port in exchange for the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget.

Tensions between Baghdad and Erbil have eased since prime minister Kadhimi took office in May. Since then, the Iraqi premier had sent 400 billion dinars ($336 million) and 320 billion dinars to the Region as payment for public servants.

Earlier on Monday, the KRG prime minister said the KRG had tried to build a good and constructive relationship with the federal government since it started its works in July 2019.

“It has been one of the priorities of the agenda of the KRG’s ninth cabinet,” he added.

He also said the KRG had shown “goodwill” to resolve the outstanding issues between Baghdad and Erbil, including oil, budget and disputed areas on the basis of Iraqi constitution.

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