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PM Barzani's visit to France draws criticism and praise from Baghdad
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Last Updated: 16/12/2017 05:46:37 am
Gulan-media - PM Barzani arrives in Paris upon official invitation by French President Macron
PM Barzani arrives in Paris upon official invitation by French President Macron
Date: 04/12/2017 : 10:33:0744 Views

PARIS, France – Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani upon an official invitation by French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Paris on Friday to address Erbil-Baghdad relations and Iraq’s situation as a whole.

“Barzani and Macron are scheduled to meet on Saturday in Elysee Palace in Paris where they will generally be addressing Iraq’s situation and Erbil-Baghdad relations as well as France and the Kurdistan Region’s ties.” read a statement issued by the KRG, adding the visit was from an official invitation by Macron.

The KRG added Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, Fuad Hussein, chief of staff of the Presidency and Safeen Dzaiy, spokesperson of the KRG have accompanied Barzani to Paris.

The visit is seen as part of an international effort to bring Erbil and Baghdad to the negotiation table following a collapse of relations between the two sides after the Kurdish region’s independence vote of September 25.

Dzaiy, the KRG spokesperson told Rudaw that France “could play a role in bringing Erbil and Baghdad closer together and lay the groundwork to resolving [their] problems through dialogue,” as it enjoys "strong ties" with both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

He added there are a number of topics that will be addressed in Saturday's meeting between Barzani and Macron including; Iraq’s situation as it heads to elections, Paris-Erbil ties and security portfolio as “France was one of the parties which supported the Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS.”

He added that France had expressed their concerns over the deterioration of Erbil and Baghdad relations which hit its lowest point in the wake of the independence referendum process.

France’s President Macron, whose country enjoys close ties with the Kurdistan Region, has intensified his efforts for talks between Erbil and Baghdad on the basis of the Iraqi constitution and the recognition of the Kurdish rights.

Macron invited the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on October 5 to Paris, and then exchanged communication with both the Iraqi and Kurdish leadership including a phone call with PM Abadi on October 28.

A statement from the Elysee Palace stated then that President Macron had asked both sides to do all they could to avoid military confrontations. It added that the two had to begin a political dialogue within the framework of the “unity and the constitution of Iraq...taking into account the rights of the Kurds and the minorities.”

A ceasefire has persisted since October 28 after PM Abadi ordered to halt military operations against the Kurdish Peshmerga to allow for security talks to begin.

The US-led Global Coalition that also includes France has mediated such security talks, but they are yet to achieve any results.

Iraq wants the Kurdistan Region to hand over its international entry points including the international airports of Erbil and Sulaimani to the federal authorities, the oil export, and allow the return of Iraqi forces to all disputed areas.

PM Barzani said on Monday that they refuse to meet the Iraqi demands before negotiations begin.
In a letter to PM Barzani in November the French president urged both Erbil and Baghdad to build on the success of their security meetings and begin political dialogue with the aim of achieving “lasting peace” in Iraq.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defence Minister Florence Parly visited Erbil in August. It was the first high profile visit of a French delegation to the Kurdish Region since the election of President Emmanuel Macron in May.

The visiting delegation said at the time that relations between the two nations would remain strong no matter who fills the positions of the French presidency or that of the prime minister.

Relations between France and the Kurdistan Region entered a new page under former French President Francois Hollande. He visited Erbil twice while in office and the former Masoud President Barzani visited Paris four times.

France and the Kurdistan Region have a long history of close relations. Danielle Mitterrand, France’s First Lady in the 1980s and early 1990s, was a strong advocate for Kurds suffering under Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime and was instrumental in campaigning for the no-fly zone that effectively allowed the Kurdistan Region to develop its current autonomy. She is affectionately known as the Mother of Kurds, and inaugurated the first Kurdish parliament in 1992.

It was also among the first countries to open a consulate in the Kurdish capital Erbil after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, and it was one of the first nations to come to the assistance of the Kurds when they found themselves at war with ISIS two years ago.


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