Former Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Friday that the expected vote in the referendum on Kurdish independence would strengthen the position of Iraq’s Kurdistan region in negotiations with Baghdad but would not lead to an automatic separation from Iraq.
“The vote on independence will not mean that the Kurds include the oil-rich Kirkuk region or three other disputed areas in Kurdish-controlled territory, nor will it mean an automatic separation from Iraq,” said Zebari, a leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which has the referendum issue.
“You will hear people say that with Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity and we want dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil, we understand all that,” Zebari said.
“The referendum is a democratic process and no democracy can oppose a referendum. We are not talking about independence. We are talking about a referendum,” he said.