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MOSCOW, July 24. /TASS/. Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan should try to resolve all their problems on the basis of mutually acceptable agreements via political dialogue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Kurdish television channel Rudaw.
He noted that Moscow has long-standing good relations with the Iraqi Kurds. "Russia’s consulate general has been operating in Erbil [the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan - TASS] since 2007. Representatives from Iraq’s Kurdistan autonomous region pay visits to Moscow," he said. "We maintain contacts with all political movements of Iraqi Kurdistan and are doing it in formats that never impair our relations with Iraq as a state."
"We develop humanitarian and educational projects. Scholarship allowances are allocated annually within the quota for Iraq and there is a separate quota for representatives of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdish diaspora in Russia is making a great contribution to the development of our relations with due account, I would like to stress it once again, of our common relations with Iraq," he said.
According to the Russian top diplomat, Russia is interested to see the Kurdish people "like any other people on the planet realize its legal aspirations and strivings," naturally, taking into account Iraq’s history, including its modern history, following the "illegal aggression" of 2003 when US-led external forces "literally ruined the state and now it takes great effort to restore it."
"Naturally, it has told on relations between Baghdad and Erbil," Lavrov noted. "We know that many constitutional issues, including those related to territorial aspects, distribution of budget funds and oil proceeds, have not yet been settled."
"We have been calling on Baghdad and Erbil to find solutions to this and other problems on the basis of compromise and mutually acceptable agreements via political dialogue," the Russian foreign minister underscored.
Russia hopes practical steps on the results of the referendum on independence of the Kurdish Autonomous District of Iraq will take account of all the possible aftermath of a decision that will be taken pending expression of will of the Kurdish people, Lavrov went on.
"We hope that while the final decisions will take account of all the political, geopolitical, demographic, and economic consequences of the step, especially if one recalls that the Kurdish problem spreads way beyond the borders of today’s Iraqi Kurdistan and has a bearing on a number of neighboring countries," Lavrov said.
"Russia hopes the people of Kurdistan will express their will peacefully and the final forms of implementation of the referendum results will be shaped up in a way that will take account of all the factors I spoke about, including the situation in the region and the position of all the countries neighboring Iraq," he said.
"It’s important to implement the legitimate aspirations of the Kurds and other peoples of the region in the format of existing norms of international law," Lavrov said. "This equally applies to the decision on the referendum that has been firmly taken in Erbil (capital of Iraqi Kurdistan - TASS), as far as we can see."
He said Russia was aware of the contacts between the government of Iraqi Kurdistan and with the states neighboring Iraq in the light of the forthcoming referendum. "If the authorities in Baghdad and Erbil find it possible, we’ll be prepared to assist the normal and mutually respectful course of the process," he indicated.
Iraqi Kurdistan is an unofficial name of the Kurdish Region, which has the status of a broad autonomy under the Iraqi Constitution passed in 2005. It embraces the northern and northeastern governorates of Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, and Erbil that have the major ethnic Kurdish communities.