Barzani rebuffs Erdogan: Kirkuk belongs to all ethnicities, they will decide its future

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani

The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani said that all the ethnic entities in Kirkuk will decide on Kirkuk’s future together.

Recent developments in Kirkuk after the hoisting of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s flag on government buildings and a decision to have a referendum to determine the city’s ‘disputed’ status has raised tensions.

Speaking at a memorial service for Shifa Gardi, the Kurdish TV channel Rudaw’s reporter who was killed in a roadside bomb while following the Mosul operation for the channel, Barzani responded to Turkish president Erdogan’s claim on Tuesday that ‘Kirkuk was a Turkmen city’ by saying that ‘Kirkuk is the city of all ethnicities living there’.

On Tuesday Erdogan had said, “When we look at it historically, whether some want to accept this or not does not interest me, but we know that Kirkuk is historically a Turkmen city. However, the city with its Turkmen, Arabs and of course Kurds has gone through a lot of changes and right now I think what they [the Kurds] are doing is an occupation.” The Turkish president then warned the KRG that they were “playing with fire” and that there would be “consequences in the future”.

“The Kurds aren’t saying that ‘Kirkuk only belongs to the Kurds,’ it is for all ethnicities. The Kurdistan flag has always been in Kirkuk but this matter has been blown out of proportion,” Barzani added.

Barzani also said that it is thanks to the peshmerga that the Islamic State’s flag is not flying in Kirkuk, and that if it weren’t for them neither the Iraqi nor the Kurdish flag would be flying freely in the city.