Iraqi Kurdish prime minister heads to Baghdad to solve oil row
ARBIL – Anadolu Agency
REUTERS PhotoThe Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced a delegation led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani will visit Baghdad to iron out the problems caused by oil exports to Turkey.
The statement announcing the plans to visit for the upcoming days was sent to the Anadolu Agency by the KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to cut central government funding for Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region if the Kurds pursued a drive to pipe oil exports to Turkey without Baghdad’s approval.
“This is a constitutional violation which we will never allow, not for the [Kurdistan] region, nor the Turkish government,” al-Maliki told Reuters in an interview Jan. 12.
Dizayee said the KRG administration has sent an official letter to al-Maliki to inform him about the visitation plans.
“This letter includes solutions for every problem,” he added. “We asked the delegation headed by dear Nechirvan Barzani to go to Baghdad from Arbil soon and reach a final agreement,” Diyazee’s statement read.
Recalling Barzani and al-Maliki had decided to establish a delegation that would deal with the problems between the parties during a Dec. 25 meeting, Dizayee said this delegation is the one to visit Baghdad.
Barzani will head the delegation to show the sensitivity of the Kurdish side about the issue, the spokesperson underscored.
“We declare we are committed to the Iraqi Constitution and the deal we signed with the Baghdad government on Dec. 25. We are committed to the Iraq Oil Ministry’s oil transportation order. The richness of the country belongs to all Iraqis,” he said.
He added they want the two parties to reach an immediate consensus to accelerate the budget approval process.
“If it will be rushed, the budget will be sent to the Iraqi Parliament and it will be voted upon. Therefore, the project will be saved from further delay,” the statement stressed.
The KRG said last week that crude had begun to flow into Turkey and exports were expected to start at the end of this month and rise in February and March.
The central government and the Kurds differ over how to interpret the Constitution’s references to oil and how revenues should be shared. The Kurdish share was set at 17 percent after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, although the Kurds frequently complain they get less than that.
“The Iraqi government holds Turkey legally responsible on this subject and reserves the right to demand resultant losses,” Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said yesterday after a meeting with Chargé d’Affaires Efe Ceylan.
“Turkey must not interfere in an issue that harms Iraqi sovereignty,” Maliki also said during the Reuters interview.