DÁIL PQ WITH THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ON KURDISTAN

  1. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report to Dáil Éireann on the situation in Kurdistan; the steps Ireland is taking to ensure that the national integrity of Kurdistan is supported by the EU and international community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53040/17]

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I ask the Minister for a brief update on any supportive actions Ireland has taken relating to the Kurdish nation which is located within the Turkish, State, Syria, Iraq and Iran. His predecessor, the Minister, Deputy Charles Flanagan, told me last year that the conflict resolution unit in the Department was attempting to assist the Kurdish people in Turkey and I wondered if that was ongoing or if anything has happened at the Foreign Affairs Council.

Deputy Simon Coveney: The Deputy’s question reminds me that I visited Erbil just after the Iraq war. The Kurds there are an extraordinarily resilient people, as they are in Kurdish parts of Turkey.

A referendum on independence was held by the Kurdistan Regional Government in September 2017. On 6 November, the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq issued an opinion stating the referendum was illegal, and the Kurdistan Regional Government has confirmed its respect for that opinion. The Federal Government has taken steps to re-establish a presence at Iraq’s external border crossings, including the international airports in the Kurdistan region. I recognise that, following the referendum, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed by Erbil and Baghdad, and I call on both parties to engage in a constructive and comprehensive dialogue. Ireland supports efforts towards a mutually agreed solution, based on the full application of the provisions of the Iraqi constitution.

In its June 2017 Council conclusions, the EU reiterated its steadfast support for Iraq’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its firm and active commitment to the preservation of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-confessional nature of Iraqi society, including the protection of its minority groups. In order to achieve the objective of building a common vision on the future of the country, the EU believes that it is now essential for Iraqis to embark on an inclusive process of reconciliation, both at the national and at the local level. The EU believes that the general interest of Iraqi people is best served through dialogue and co-operation. I take this opportunity to reiterate Ireland’s support for the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq.

Ireland has consistently called for inclusive democratic measures to allow for genuine national reconciliation, in order to create the environment for long-term viable stability in Iraq and the wider region. If specific commitments were made by my predecessor, I will follow up on them and get back to the Deputy.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: It is interesting to hear that the Minister was in Erbil. In 1920, Kurdistan was to be established as an independent state but, following the treaty of Lausanne after the disastrous Greek-Turkish war, the opportunity was lost. I asked the previous Minister, Deputy Flanagan, whether the annual report on Turkey had been received by the Foreign Affairs Council, particularly in relation to the wave of repression that occurred in Turkey following the attempted coup in 2016. The Minister said that, in one of the few positive elements of the Iraq war, the autonomous region of Kurdistan had emerged. Do we have any specific relationship with that region? I note what the Minister said about the referendum and the large numbers of Kurdish people in Syrian and Iran, where there has been similarly severe repression over the decades.

Deputy Simon Coveney: I wish to put on the record my admiration for the Kurdish people. They have been an extraordinarily resilient people and have played a significant part in facing extremism and terrorism within Iraq by directly fighting Islamic State. I do not have any details on the Turkey report but I can follow up on it for the Deputy. I will also need to follow up on the question of our direct supports to the regional government in Erbil. It is an area in which I am interested.