Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Sunday that Baghdad has used its political dispute with Erbil to cut the Kurdish region’s budget and “that is a wrong and failed policy.”
“The federal government has used the bread of the people of Kurdistan as a trump card in its dispute with the Kurdistan government,” he said.
“Baghdad cut our budget saying that the Kurdistan Region had independently sold its oil, but that is far from the truth,” said Barzani in a speech at a ceremony recognizing the Erbil citadel as a world heritage site by UNESCO. “But up to that point we hadn’t sold any oil.”
“Only after cutting the budget by Baghdad did the Kurdistan Region begin to sell oil,” he explained.
The prime minister said that “the perseverance and patience of Kurdistan’s people proved wrong those policies that led Iraq to economic, military and security crisis.”
The federal government froze Kurdistan Region’s budget in January causing strain to the region’s finances and letting government employees go without pay for almost a year.
“But our efforts continue to solve this financial crisis and we will gradually solve it,” said Barzani.
The prime minister added that the new Iraqi government is multiparty and that the Kurds will seek to solve their issues with dialogue and “Our participation was for this purpose,”
Barzani said that Kurdistan is now facing a critical stage and that the threat of the Islamic State has now “made the Kurdistan Region the frontline in the war against terrorism.”
“The brave Peshmergas are now fighting on behalf of humanity to defend Kurdistan and its people, to defend the values of the free world and they give their lives for these values everyday,” he said.
Barzani said adding the Erbil citadel to the list of world heritage sites was a proud day for the Kurds and “another successful stage in the life of the Kurdistan Region.”
He said that the citadel shows a history of multiculturalism, tolerance and coexistence.
The prime minister especially thanked UNESCO for its recognition of the citadel and other NGO working on the renovation in the past few years.