KRG says negotiations with Baghdad a priority
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) restated on Thursday, February 25, 2016, that negotiations with Iraq’s federal government were a priority.
The KRG released a statement on its website reporting the KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Kuwaiti Consul-General Omar Ahmad alKandari to discuss issues in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Topics of discussion were the fight against the Islamic State (IS) and the economic crisis in the Kurdistan Region.
PM Barzani said during the meeting that the Kurdistan Region was ready for any signal from Baghdad to resolve the issues on both sides.
“The KRG’s priority is to tackle the issues with Baghdad by negotiation and with mutual understanding,” Barzani stated.
Barzani also explained that the Kurdistan Region is facing a crisis and requires assistance from the international community, especially the Gulf nations.
“The KRG is serious about reform and will take all necessary measures to implement it. The KRG will attempt to find other income sources as an alternative to oil and gas, “he added.
The global slump in oil prices, the war against IS, the influx of refugees and displaced Iraqis and the ongoing dispute with Baghdad over the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget have strained the region’s finances leaving it unable to pay public employees’ salaries.
Revenue from crude oil exported via pipeline to Ceyhan in Turkey represents the Kurdistan Region’s main means of survival. Without such revenue, salaries of Peshmerga, the security forces and other key government workers cannot be paid.
The KRG has struggled to pay salaries on time for public employees in the region, with some having gone up to five months without wages.
Tensions between the KRG and Iraq’s federal government hit a high in 2015 after officials from both sides accused each other of failing to abide by the terms of an oil revenue sharing deal struck by officials in December 2014.
Officials from Baghdad and Erbil had signed a revenue sharing deal, under which the KRG would receive 17 percent of the federal budget in exchange for exporting 550,000 barrels of oil per day to the Iraqi State Organization for Marketing Oil (SOMO) at Ceyhan Port in Turkey.