Kurdish authorities said on Tuesday they respect the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court's recent interpretation of Article 1 of the constitution regarding secession in Iraq, signaling a new phase in efforts to restart stalled negotiations over its future.
Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in September, defying the central government in Baghdad -- which had ruled the ballot illegal -- as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran which have their own Kurdish minorities.
The Federal Supreme Court of Iraq issued a decision on Nov. 6 stating that no region or province could unilaterally secede.
The ruling responded to a request from the Iraqi government in Baghdad to put an end to any “misinterpretation” of the constitution and to “assert the unity of Iraq,” a court spokesman said last week.
The Kurdish government also called on launching a peaceful dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to address their differences.
“We believe that this Decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq, as Article 1 stated,” the KRG said in a statement.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi had previously urged the northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region to abide by the court’s decision.
The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq’s central government and the country’s regions and provinces. Its decisions cannot be appealed, though it has no mechanism to enforce its ruling in the Kurdish region.