Kurdish leader Barzani: We can benefit from the Czech-Slovak experience of peaceful partition

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (Rudaw) – President Masoud Barzani and his delegation visited the Czech Republic this week on the last leg of a trip that took the Kurdistan Regional Government officials to the United States and Europe.

The trip, which began on May 3, has been described in glowing terms by Barzani who has been widely quoted as saying it has exceeded expectations.

Barzani met with a Rudaw correspondent in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, to briefly highlight the results of his diplomatic journey.

Rudaw: Have you been able to achieve what you expect so far on this trip?

Barzani: Generally speaking, the visit was very successful. It may be more than what we expected.

Did you expect such support for Kurdish independence and Kurdistan’s future from the Hungarian prime minister?

Many of these countries are ready to support the Kurds’ self-determination. That is why we have been calling for a referendum, so Kurds can decide on their own fate. Many of our friends believe it is our own right.

Has any other country pledged such support ?

So many of these countries have the same response, but how they express it or how they show their support is a matter of having the chance to talk about them. What all of these countries agreed upon is that Kurds should have the right to self-determination.

You are now in the Czech Republic. As we know, [the former] Czechoslovakia was divided in a peaceful way. Do you believe Kurdistan can peacefully exit from Iraq?

Czech and Slovakia’s case is a very successful and real experience, showing that neither unification nor departure can be done by force. That is why I believe we can benefit from their experience.

It is said you visited the Czech republic and Hungary to ask for weapons for the Peshmerga forces, is that right?

Both are among the countries that are supporting Peshmerga forces in their battle with Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIS]. Of course, one of the main goals of the visit is to ask for more help to the Peshmerga forces.

Did they promise to help?

Yes, they are ready to help.

So many times we have heard in the West and the international media that the Peshmerga are fighting for the entire world, because the war is threatening not only the region but the whole world. Have you seen this idea reflected in America, Hungary and the Czech Republic’s promises and practices?

There is no doubt the Peshmerga are highly respected by American and European sides. They all expressed their willing and readiness to help the Kurdish forces. They said the Peshmerga are fighting for the whole world.

We have heard that the leader of the Czech Republic has expressed gratitude for the Peshmerga. How has shown his gratitude?

This is right, he was really friendly. He has shown warm gratitude and respect for the Kurds and the Peshmerga. It was obvious they have special sympathy for the case of our nation.

Is there any talk in US or Europe about the Kurdish Yezidi women who are enslaved by ISIS?

Certainly, this is really an important issue and we have explained the case for all sides: that we will never forget this issue or those who committed these crimes. Fortunately, our agencies have been able to liberate 1,200 women and children so far and hopefully we will free the rest as well.

Have you talked about the situation of people in Rojava during your meetings?

Of course, the case of Kobane was one of the main subjects. They knew about the role of the Peshmerga in liberating Kobane. We have talked about Rojava as well and we repeated that we are ready to help our brothers and sisters in Rojava whenever needed.

Were you been able to achieve what you expected in America?

Yes, I have said it there, and I would like to repeat it again here, that what we have heard in America and what we achieved there were above our expectations.

People in Kurdistan are eagerly waiting for the results of your visit. When you travel back to Kurdistan what will these results be?

We will be back with good news – hopefully. We will let people of Kurdistan know what we achieved.