Northern Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper that the KRG will hold an independence referendum this year before November, as the nation is now "ripe for independence."
The Kurdish leader, who spoke to the Swiss newspaper Neue Züricher Zeitung, said that Kurds, some 40 million to 50 million people must have their own state. Emphasizing the notion of democracy, Barzani said that any resolutions have to be made through referendums rather than being imposed. Barzani, who held a meeting with consuls and diplomatic representatives of 36 countries in January, had also instructed his Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) to work with other parties to hold the promised referendum.
Barzani further said that the 100-year-old Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain and its arbitrary borders through the Kurdish region is outdated. Highlighting that those borders are now meaningless, he said: "We must also consider the fact that we are divided into four parts. And each part has its own situation and each should find a solution with its central governments," Barzani added.
He said that the international community has to look for a real resolution for Iraq and that otherwise local and even global peace will be under threat. "The fight against ISIS [DAESH] is our priority," Barzani said. He said they had been planning to hold a referendum last year, but he had to postpone it due to the ongoing war with DAESH. Iraqi Kurdistan is now planning to hold a referendum before the U.S. elections take place in November.
Barzani had expressed his thoughts on KGR relations with Turkey in late March, saying: "As long as the referendum is only for Iraqi Kurdistan, it has nothing to do with the Kurds in Turkey," adding that they want to perform the procedure "in a peaceful and balanced way." Turkey is considered an essential partner for the KRG.