New EU strategy underlines priority for Erbil-Baghdad dialogue

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg    


ERBIL – The European Union adopted a new post-ISIS strategy on Iraq, underlining the urgent need for Baghdad and Erbil to cooperate again and to address longstanding disagreements on territories, budget, and oil.

“One urgent priority is to help place relations between the Federal Government and the Government of the Kurdistan Region on a viable and stable footing through a constructive dialogue on all relevant issues across the political, security and economic spectrum,” the strategy says.

“The guiding principle of such a dialogue must be that parties avoid unilateral action and seek the full implementation of the Iraqi constitution,” the EU said.

According to the new strategy the success of the Mosul military campaign was in no small part due to the good cooperation and unity of purpose between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

“These good relations have been challenged by the Kurdistan Region's unilateral decision to hold a referendum on independence,” the EU said about the 25 September Kurdish independence referendum.

Following the independence referendum, Baghdad imposed a ban on international flights from Kurdish airports, and military took control of the majority of the Kurdish-held disputed territories, including oil-rich Kirkuk.

“The EU should remain fully committed to Iraq's unity and should encourage the parties to rekindle this spirit of cooperation in order to strengthen Iraq's federal order and to address the longstanding points of disagreement that have hampered relations,” the new strategy says.

“This should include a resolution of the disputes over oil and revenue sharing and the settlement of the disputed boundary areas (DIBs) through a constructive dialogue process between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government that is based on the Iraqi constitution and the respective responsibilities and prerogatives of the parties,” the EU strategy document says.

“The EU believes that a sustained dialogue on all outstanding issues is essential in order to find solutions that meet constitutional requirements and shape a stable relationship that satisfies both parties,” the strategy concludes.

Safeen Dizayee, the spokesperson of the KRG in a statement last week said that there “have been many national and international calls for the start of dialogue to resolve outstanding issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal Government of Iraq.”

“During the past week, we noted positive indicators and an improved atmosphere from Baghdad to begin dialogue, as well as the visit of a delegation from the federal government to the Kurdistan Region,” he said.

Nevertheless, so far there has been no direct dialogue yet between the Kurdish government and the Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi. Although recently a number of Kurdish opposition parties and politicians met the Iraqi PM Abadi in person.

“We believe that serious dialogue is the right way to find solutions for all outstanding issues, not through media statements that have been going on for almost three months without producing any benefit,” Dizayee said.