French President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, United States, Sep. 19, 2017. (Photo: AFP)

Barzani refuses Macron’s suggestion to delay referendum

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – French President called his Kurdish counterpart on Thursday afternoon local time, urging him to postpone the referendum.

Emmanuel Macron praised the role of Kurds in defeating Islamic State (IS) and embracing refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

He then reiterated France’s position on the unified Iraq and Kurdish rights within the constitution.

President Barzani thanked Macron and the French people for supporting Kurdistan but affirmed that the referendum will not be postponed.

Barzani also emphasized that Kurdistan will continue the dialogue with Baghdad.

Last Tuesday, the President of France said his country would not stand against the Kurdistan Region’s democratic process ahead of a planned independence referendum.

In a press conference after delivering a speech at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, French President Emmanuel Macron said France would not oppose the Region’s democratic process.

The French President also highlighted his country’s historical relationship with the Kurdistan Region.

“The Kurds and France have a long-standing relationship,” he said. “France has lots of respect for the Kurdish people who have fought hard to defend their values and their history.”

The French President cautioned he did not think secession from Iraq was a good idea but did not openly oppose the Sep. 25 vote, adding that the referendum could lead to full independence and the creation of a Kurdish state which might destabilize the region.

“If this referendum is held, I hope it leads to the proper representation of Kurds in government and within the framework of the [Iraqi] Constitution,” Macron stated.

He added that if the Kurdish leadership decided to proceed with a referendum, it should lead to a different outcome other than independence from Iraq.

Macron suggested Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani use the vote to seek greater representation in the Iraqi government should they proceed with the referendum.

“[President Barzani] should transform the referendum into one that would allow Kurds to ask for respect and representation in the government and constitution of Iraq for all minorities, particularly the Kurds” he explained.

He pointed to the need for peace to prevail in Iraq and the Middle East, specifically by ensuring political and territorial stability.

“France wishes a government and balance be put in place in Iraq which respects all minorities and members of the Iraqi society,” he concluded.

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