Improved relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government, as well as an ongoing dialogue, led discussions on Monday in meetings between a United Nations envoy and senior Kurdish leaders.
UN Special Representative for the Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, met separately with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) President Masoud Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Masrour Barzani, and KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to discuss Erbil-Baghdad ties.
In her meeting with Masoud Barzani, the two sides addressed “the political situation and the latest developments” in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, a statement on the KDP leader’s website read.
Hennis-Plasschaert highlighted the political process in the Kurdistan Region, particularly the steps to accelerate the government formation and elect a new president which she described as “good news for all parties.”
“The situation in the areas covered by Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, the relations between Erbil and Baghdad, and the role of the United Nations in helping the two sides address their problems were other subjects in the meeting,” the statement concluded.
The fate of disputed territories between the KRG and the Iraqi government, namely Kirkuk, was constitutionally determined based on Article 140, which requires a referendum to be held in the province for people to decide on the future of the province: whether it should be part of the KRG or the federal government.
The date of the referendum was set to December 2007, but over a decade has since passed. The article goes unimplemented and is one of the long-standing disputes between Erbil and Baghdad.
Indeed, in his meeting with Hennis-Plasschaert, Chancellor Masrour Barzani “welcomed UN engagement for a settlement that reflects the roadmap outlined in the Iraqi Constitution,” a KRSC statement read.
“He reiterated readiness to work closely with Iraqi authorities through the next KRG Cabinet,” it added.
Chancellor Barzani, who the leading KDP has elected as their candidate to become prime minister of the new KRG cabinet, “agreed that stability in the area can provide both governments the opening necessary to advance political agreements.”
Hennis-Plasschaert also discussed the issue of disputed areas and the normalization of the security situation in those areas in her meeting with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
The two sides noted that “the return of displaced people to those [disputed areas] requires close coordination between Erbil and Baghdad,” a statement on the KRG’s website read.
The UN envoy also “expressed satisfaction with the agreement of the Kurdish parties on the formation of the new KRG cabinet,” it added.
“Discussions on the situation in the region, in general, and several issues related to the situation in Syria and Iran were another aspect of the meeting,” the statement concluded.