Italy Supports Kurdistan’s Independence Referendum: KRG Envoy


21 June 2017  BasNews –  ERBIL — The Italian government is not against the independence of Kurdistan and its official during several meetings have expressed support for an imminent referendum on the region’s independence form Iraq, said Rezan Qader, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Representative to Italy.

In an exclusive interview with BasNews, Qader explained the diplomatic relations between Rome and Erbil as well as the support of Italy for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their war against Islamic State (IS).

BasNews: How do you evaluate the relations between Kurdistan Region and Italy?

Qader: The friendly relations between us and Italy goes back to many years ago, and the current Italian government has developed a strong ties with Kurds. Italy was a member of the coalition forces [which overthrew the Baath regime] in 2003. Since then, Italian officials and lawmakers from all influential political parties have been visiting Kurdistan Region and starting to understand the Kurds and build relations.

BasNews: Have you discussed the Kurdistan’s independence referendum which is scheduled for September 25th this year?

Qader: I have been in Italy for many years, and now as the Kurdistan Region’s envoy, I would say that Italy is well familiar with the Kurdish cause. We are in constant contact with Italian parliament, government, political parties and influential political figures in Italy and they have been showing support for the referendum as a natural right for the Kurds. The Italian officials believe that countries should take the will of their people into consideration, and if the people vote Yes in an independence referendum, they should not be neglected. However, the KRG has not called on us to officially meet with Italian government and discuss the issue.

Upon the declaration of independence after the referendum, Italy will certainly remain a friend of Kurdistan and the will of people is important for them.

BasNews: What is the position of Vatican on this issue?

Qader: Vatican is in favour of peace and it opposes any sort of violence. After the beginning of the Islamic State (IS) crisis, Pope Francis called on the international community to support the Kurds as the Peshmerga is fighting on behalf of the international community. They have a positive position perception on the Kurds.

We however have ensured them that an independent state of Kurdistan will be based on peaceful principles of coexistence. They commend the peaceful atmosphere provided in the Kurdistan Region of people with different religious adherence.

BasNews: What about Italian government’s support for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces?

Qader: Italy praises the vital role of the Peshmerga [in the war on terrorism], and Italian Defence Minister has already proudly said “I’m Peshmerga”. He names the Peshmerga as “brothers and friends”. Italian Defence and Foreign Ministries are now working with KRG’s Peshmerga ministry to take in a number of wounded Peshmerga fighters and provide them with medical attention in Italy. The expenses will be covered by the Italian government.


BasNews: What about military aids to the Peshmerga forces?

Qader: Italy has so far to a good extent provided the Peshmerga with military support. Several Peshmerga troops received military trainings in Italy before the Italian government established a training camp in Kurdistan to continue advisory role to the Kurdish forces.

However, neither the supports by Italy nor those by other coalition forces have ever met the needs of Peshmerga forces.