President Barzani's Press Conference in Baghdad Following Government Formation Agreement | |

Transcript of President Barzani’s Press Conference Following Agreement on Government Formation

President: My initiative brought with it a responsibility towards our nation. I would like to thank my brothers and colleagues, the Iraqi leaders, for their responsiveness and their cooperation for achieving this success. I felt from them a complete sense of responsibility towards their country. Their cooperation was crucial to the success of this initiative.

Last night we accomplished a great achievement, and this is to be considered a great victory for all Iraqis. All the blocs agreed to attend the parliamentary session this afternoon. We also agreed to settle the issue of the three presidency posts so that the parliament can begin its task from today onward. Once again, I would like to thank all colleagues who contributed to this success. What was accomplished was a great victory, although it unfortunately took a long time.
This is the beginning of a new era of transition to establish relations based on friendship and forgiveness amongst Iraqis - with all their ethnicities, sects and religions. I must here acknowledge the role of Dr. Rosch Shaways and his colleagues, along with representative of the other blocs, who helped create a suitable atmosphere in which to gather the leaders in Erbil and here in Baghdad.

Now that we have undertaken the basic step and broken the deadlock, hopefully the parliament will convene this afternoon, the issue of three presidencies will be settled, and a government of real national partnership will be established - a government which will be responsible for providing security and basic services such as water, electricity, health, and education.

I would also like to pay tribute to the Iraqi people for their patience and for enduring hardships and sufferings, and to express admiration for their resilience - especially the people of Baghdad. I would like to reassure you that your brethren in Kurdistan are in solidarity with you; we feel your pain and are ready to do anything to reduce that pain and provide security for you. We share the same fate, pain and future. I hope that our people can realize their wishes. National unity is a sacred goal for all of us.

Q: Do you think the designation of the three presidential posts was fair?

President: I believe so. We cannot have one side taking everything. Each of us took a part and what we deserved. But in reality, I believe this was the preferred and successful format.

Q: Do you think that you risked your relations with the United States by insisting on your candidate for the post of president?

President: We have a strong and friendly relationship with the US. But we as Iraqis can resolve our issues in a better way. They had an opinion on some positions, including the position of the president, but we are more aware of our internal affairs. The Americans will support what the Iraqis agree on, even if there were, in the past, differences on some of these issues.

Q: Were there any regional influences on your decision-making process?

President: There is no denying that there are international and regional pressures. Often there were discussions and exchanges of opinions that sometimes reached a point of pressure. But the meetings in Erbil and in Baghdad sent a strong message that Iraqis must resolve their own issues within Iraq and not in some other place.

Q Will there be an active participation by the Al-Iraqiya bloc, and will Mr. Ayad Allawi be directly involved in the government?

President: The sovereign posts are: president of the republic, prime minister and speaker of the parliament. The Kurds will have the post of the president of the republic; the national alliance blocs will have the post of prime minister, and the Al-Iraqiya bloc will take the post of speaker of the parliament. Towards the end of the meeting last night, the leaders of Al-Iraqiya acted extremely responsibly and decided to take part in the government and attend the parliamentary session tomorrow. We have not heard whether there are any differences among them. And even if there are, we are not aware of them. There is a new position that will be enacted by legislation called the council for strategic policies which will be headed by Ayad Allawi, and I hope he will assume this position as it is a high-profile post.

Question: How about agreement on the justice and accountability or reconciliation file?

President: There were lengthy discussions last night on this which ended with unanimous agreement, and I think this was satisfactory to all.

Question: What kind of agreement was reached on Article 140 or the disputed areas?

President: There are a number of constitutional articles that are a matter of dispute, not only Article 140. But the constitution is the guide. I am very pleased and I would like to convey this to the people of Kurdistan that the outstanding issues between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government were among the easiest of the issues that were agreed by all. This strengthens national unity and this was pleasant and encouraging. It makes the Kurds feel their responsibility towards Iraq.

Question: Was agreement reached on ministerial posts?

President: The government is supposed to be formed within a month.

Question: Did you agree on the distribution of powers in the new government?

President: Of course the constitution has specified the powers of each institution and we cannot do anything unconstitutional.

Question: Will the death of parliamentarian Sami Shorish today (from Kurdistan Alliance) affect the parliamentary session today?

President: Unfortunately I heard of this news an hour ago. His passing away is loss to the parliament and to us all. The parliament will convene and there will be a moment of silence for him.

Question: What are the powers of the proposed council for strategic polices?

President: The strategic policies are obvious; they include policies relating to the military, economic affairs, oil and gas, war and peace, and diplomatic affairs - all of which are considered strategic. The decrees of this council which are passed unanimously are binding on all institutions.

Question: What is your message for the people of Kurdistan?

President: My message is that we should be proud of ourselves to have ended the deadlock. The Kurds played a big role in this and this has been appreciated by all Iraqis. We are always concerned about the people of all Iraq and we never differentiate between the welfare of the people of the Kurdistan Region and other parts of Iraq. In fact other Iraqi leaders have realized that the Kurds and the Kurdistan Region are a source of strength and support for the rest of Iraq.

Question: What ministries would the Kurdistan Alliance demand in the new government?

President: We have a paper which includes 19 points, some of which concern the country as a whole and some specific to the Kurdistan Region. As for which ministries we would ask for, it is too early for that.

Question: How will decision-making be conducted in the proposed council for strategic policies?

President: The members of this council will make the decisions and the process will be regulated by new legislation.

Question: What kind of relations does the Kurdistan Region have with Turkey and with Iran?

President: Obviously both Turkey and Iran are neighbors to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. We want to develop the best relations with both of these countries based on mutual respect and on mutual interests.

I want to let Iraqi Christians know that the Kurdistan Region is open to them. If they want to come, we will protect them and provide them with all services. We are extremely sorry for the crimes to which they have been subjected in other parts of Iraq, and we condemn these criminal acts. They are innocent people and a precious community of this country. We urge the government to provide security for them.