1-28-14 Rudaw News: ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – In a meeting with Kurdish MPs and ministers in Erbil and Baghdad on Monday, Kurdistan Region Prime Minster Nechirvan Barzani said that his government will do all it can to resolve disagreements with the central government over the natural resources and budget.
“The Kurdistan Region favors solving all the issues with Baghdad,” said Barzani. “America and other countries, too, would like to see us and Baghdad solve our disputes. ”
Barzani said that the Kurds have from the very beginning appreciated the delicate nature of energy issues with Baghdad and that when writing the Iraqi constitution and now, they have taken into account the need to avoid complications.
“Today in the Kurdistan Region we can produce and export oil and we have the pipelines to send oil to Turkey ready,” said Barzani. “But so far we haven’t sold a single barrel of oil. We want to reach an agreement with Baghdad on this issue. ”
The Kurdish prime minister said that the presence of so many foreign oil companies in the autonomous region is testimony to the fact that the Kurds have and are practicing their constitutional right. “Otherwise they (the companies) wouldn’t sign such deals with the Kurdistan Region,” he maintained.
Barzani said that the most important issue at the moment is a consensus among Iraqis on all national issues that have two major pillars: political and economic.
The prime minister maintained that all disagreements between Erbil and Baghdad revolve around a single point: The role of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO).
“They (Baghdad) say ‘give your oil to SOMO, we will sell it and then give you the revenue as part of your budget from Baghdad. ’ We don’t see more than that as the rights of Kurdistan. ”
However, said Barzani, our answer to them is: “Transparency in oil exports and the participation of SOMO with us as a partner. ”
Barzani added that Erbil wants to know how much oil Iraq sells and that his government has invited Baghdad to monitor the Kurdish oil sales.
“There is such propaganda that we are selling our oil cheap,” said Barzani to the Kurdish MPs and ministers. “But there is no truth to that. We only want to sell our tender according to international standards and we are willing to let SOMO be in the entire process. ”
On the issue of Kurdistan’s share of the Iraqi annual budget, Barzani said: “We want this issue solved in a way that Baghdad wouldn’t threaten to cut our budget every day. We cannot accept this kind of language. ”
Barzani also defended his government’s energy agreement with Turkey, which has been continuously rejected by Baghdad.
“After two years of extensive talks, the Kurdish government has signed a solid agreement with Turkey and tens of lawyers have been involved in drafting that agreement,” he said.
“We also have a pipeline connection with Turkey, but we haven’t yet sold a barrel of oil on the world market,” he added.
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