Barzani Discusses Kurdistan’s Financial Crisis with US and EU Officials
The Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani separately met a delegation from the US Embassy in Iraq as well as a mission from the European Union, where they discussed the current situation of the Kurdistan Region and the financial crisis the region is facing.
Following a recent visit by a KRG delegation to the United States to brief the US Administration about the financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region, and to request US support, yesterday Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received the US Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Stewart Jones and his accompanying diplomatic team.
In the meeting, which was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, the current financial crisis in the region, was discussed. The visiting delegation expressed concern and eagerness to find a solution to overcome the difficulties.
Prime Minister Barzani presented a summary of the financial crisis and explained that it was caused by withholding by Baghdad of the Kurdistan Region’s share in the national budget since February 2014, the cost of the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS, accommodating a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons and the recent sharp fall in oil price in the international market.
He outlined the KRG’s plan, adopted in 2014, to reduce costs and expenditure while increasing income through reforms in the government institutions.
Both Prime Minister Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Talabani provided detailed information on the depth and complexity of the financial crisis.
The US delegation expressed its support for the steps taken by KRG to address the situation, and mentioned that the information provided would be taken back to Washington, which will send technical experts and advisers to the Kurdistan Region to help overcome the crisis.
Ambassador Jones praised the role of the Peshmerga Forces in the fight against ISIS, and the efforts by the KRG to accommodate and provide assistance to scores of refugees and IDPs, who fled the ISIS terrorist threat and took refuge in the Kurdistan Region.
PM Barzani also received a delegation from the European Union Mission to Iraq led by Mr. Constantinos Vardakiz, acting Head of the EU Mission to Iraq and Head of the EU Office in the Kurdistan Region, along with representatives assigned to the Kurdistan Region by EU member states.
The EU delegation noted with great concern the current financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region and expressed hope it will be resolved with the minimum of further delay.
The delegation expressed support of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts toward resolving internal differences and addressing the current crisis. In this regard, in the interests of all the people of the Kurdistan Region, they informed their program includes meetings with all political parties to encourage unity.
Prime Minister Barzani expressed his gratitude to the European Union for its support in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS, and for humanitarian assistance to nearly two million refugees and internally displaced persons. He noted that the Region’s capacity to meet the costs of the war against ISIS, compounded by the costs of assistance being provided to refuges and IDPs, have been greatly worsened by Baghdad withholding the agreed share of national revenue since February 2014 along with the sharp decrease in global oil prices.
He informed that the KRG has begun to implement measures to address the financial crisis and noted that in this regard technical assistance from the international community is welcomed, particularly from the EU. About resolving the financial crisis, he also informed that the KRG is taking measures toward reforming administrative structures and systems.
Prime Minister Barzani reaffirmed the KRG’s commitment to dialogue and negotiation in resolving internal issues and those with Baghdad.
Prime Minister Barzani also noted that regarding the right to self-determination a referendum will be conducted in the Kurdistan Region and the results will be presented to Baghdad in a spirit of peaceful discussion.