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Barzani: Turkey Should Get Used To Kurdish State
by Kurdistan Observer (reposted)
Saturday Feb 5th, 2005 11:13 AM
Zaman- Feb 4, 2005-Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Massoud Barzani has said it is unacceptable for Turkey to declaring Kirkuk as a "red line".
Turkey should not interfere with Iraq's internal affairs, Barzani said: "It is our very natural right to have a state. This fact should be seen from now on and accepted." Barzani spoke to Zaman at his compound in Erbil yesterday (February 3) where he spoke about a possible Kurdish state and Kirkuk. Barzani said their first priority at this moment is a federal Kurdish state: "We cannot agree with Turkey on two issues. One is the Kirkuk issue and the other is the situation of a federative Kurdistan within Iraq." The Kurdish leader expressed that they do not want Ankara to intervene in the region and added that Turkish military intervention in the region might be tragic for both parties.

Barzani said he does not know when they will become independent and argued that harsh statements by Turkish authorities regarding northern Iraq are based on "some problems stemming from internal affairs." The Kurdish leader also touched upon Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's harsh remarks about the Iraqi elections and Kirkuk: "Prime Minister Erdogan is also a leader who came to power through an election. Thus, he knows very well what the will of the people means." With regard to claims that the elections in Kirkuk, where over a hundred thousand Kurds were registered, were illegitimate, Barzani reiterated: "Those who voted in Kirkuk are all residents of Kirkuk. Those who had to flee from there had already cast their votes. There is not a single non-Kirkuk resident among those who voted." When asked, "You had problems with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Jalal Talabani. Is is possible that such a situation might reoccur in the new term?" the KDP leader replied: "There have been no conflicts between us since 1998. I hope there will be none in the future as well." In reference to PUK leader Talabani's candidacy for Iraqi prime ministry or presidency, Barzani said: "We want to be represented at the top-level in Iraq. Hence, I myself have asked Talabani to become a candidate for presidency."

When asked whether or not they will meet with Turkmen after the elections and how they will direct their relations with Turkey, Barzani answered: "The Turkmen are our brothers. We will protect their rights as much as they [protect] their own rights. We protected their rights in the past and will do so today as well. I hope relations with Turkey will be better from now on." Barzani emphasized that relations between Kurdistan and the US are very strong and deeply rooted and said the US should not withdraw from the region until terrorism is eliminated.
by more
Saturday Feb 5th, 2005 11:41 AM
ERBIL, Iraq — Kurdish self-rule is inevitable if not imminent, a Kurdish leader said on Wednesday after Kurds in northern Iraq voted almost unanimously for independence in an informal referendum held last weekend.

“When the right time comes it will become a reality,” said Masoud Barzani, head of one of the two main Kurdish factions which control Iraq's northern Kurdish zone.

“Self-determination is the natural right of our people, and they have the right to express their desires.”

Barzani was speaking three days after more than1 .9 million Iraqi Kurds — some 95 per cent of those asked — voted for independence in an informal survey conducted by volunteers.

Iraqi Kurds, who were persecuted under Saddam Hussein, have long pushed for independence, but Turkey, Iran and Syria — all with substantial Kurdish minorities — oppose the establishment of Kurdish state on their borders.

The referendum was held on the day of Iraq's historic elections on Sunday. Its organisers surveyed Kurds as they emerged from polling stations across northern Iraq.

The volunteers handed out postcard-sized cards with two boxes printed on them next to two flags — one Kurdish and one Iraqi. The question `What do you want?' was written at the top of the card and those polled were asked to tick one box.

By Wednesday, more than2 . 1million Kurdish votes had been counted, according to organisers who are still awaiting results from the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.

Witnesses said some children filled them in and there was often no restriction on people taking more than one form.

Although the survey was unofficial and not monitored by any independent body, many Kurds said its results were proof of a groundswell of support for the eventual creation of an independent Kurdish state.

“We want to make sure that the Kurdish people do not suffer any more, and to show that Kurdish people have the will and ability to live in freedom,” said Shamal Hawizy, a senior member of the Kurdistan Referendum Movement.

Independence push

The movement, founded in October2003 , is funded through donations and assisted by Kurdish authorities, who paid for the referendum's cost of around $150,000.

Last year, the movement collected1 . 7million signatures calling for a petition demanding a similar referendum.

Paul Bremer, who was in charge of Iraq's provisional authority at the time, declined to meet Kurdish leaders to accept their petition and the referendum never took place.

Kurds make up around 15 per cent of Iraq's population of 27 million. They are expected to emerge as a leading force when results are announced from Sunday's national vote.

Most Iraqis oppose Kurdish secession. The international community says it is committed to establishing a unified but federal Iraq in which Kurds have a degree of autonomy.

“The referendum is just a statement that a very large proportion of the Kurdish population up there wants independence,” one Western diplomat in Baghdad said.

“That feeling exists, and it would be silly to deny it, but Kurdish national leaders and Kurdish regional leaders understand that an independent Kurdish state now is not possible.”

Others said the creation of such a state was only a matter of time.

“When you have a democracy it's almost impossible to hold people in a country that they hate,” said Peter Galbraith, a visiting former US diplomat familiar with the region.

“If you asked me whether in 10 years there will be an independent Kurdistan, I'd say yes.”