ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani discussed Kurdish independence, the fate of areas outside the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) administration and Erbil-Baghdad relations in a meeting with a delegation from Iraqi Al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue in Erbil on Saturday.

 Addressing on a long anticipated Kurdish independence declaration, Barzani assured the delegation which was comprised of Iraqi elite politicians, parliamentarians, journalists and intellectuals “the independence of Kurdistan will be far from violent. It will be within the context of dialogue and understanding for a grassroots resolution of the problems,” the Kurdistan Region Presidency quoted Barzani as telling the attendants of the meeting.

 Barzani added that “nowhere in the world a forced unity and a forced separation succeed.”

 Barzani in the meeting welcomed any form of dialogue and exchanges of points of view, deeming it a “very good” step forward to reach a positive end.

 Commenting on the future of the areas which Peshmerga brought under control in the fight against ISIS, Barzani stressed that “No one or party has the right to impose a designed formula over the people of these areas, but rather, the fate of these areas must be determined by themselves.”

 The Kurdish leader explained since the Iraqi state was established, the Kurdish nation’s share has only been an exploitation and violation of their typical rights at the hands of authorities in Baghdad.

 “The state of Iraq was established on the basis of partnership between Kurds, Arabs and considering other elements’ rights. But the Kurdistan Region’s share in this partnership was the destruction of 4,500 villages, 182,000 victims of Anfal, the missing of 12,000 Fayli youth, 8,000 Barzanis and gassing of Kurdistan with chemical weapons,” Barzani said.

 “In addition to all these, the Kurdish nation did not turn to explosions or acts against civilian people during the Aylul Revolution and other phases of struggles. Though, in the uprising of 1991, as it was turning a new page with the Iraqi state, the Kurdish nation did not seek retaliation.”

According to the statement, Barzani explained to the delegation that he had believed after the fall of Baath regime a federal and democratic Iraq could have been established and that he exerted all of his efforts in this regard.

“The following events showed that the culture of subordinating Kurds and violating the partnership by Baghdad is persistent and dominant,” Barzani said.

“The public opinion of the Kurdistan Region, their will and desires have to be understood and respected.” The statement added: Likewise, other religious and national groups of Iraq also have to be respected.

Barzani went on to talk about his role as the president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and that of Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan after Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled in 2003 when they helped other Iraqi parties to draft a constitution for the country and forming a new Iraq based on federalism and democracy. Talabani has fallen ill since 2012, after he suffered a brain stroke.

Barzani also highlighted that their attempts have not worked as Iraqi authorities ruled the country contrary to the constitution; therefore, partnership and federalism failed in Iraq and Baghdad’s position on the KRG became retaliatory after “Kurdistan was threatened; the bread of the Kurdistan Region was cut off.”

But, in the end “the boundaries will not be redrawn with blood,” Ibrahim Somaida’i, an advisor to the prime minister of Iraq, told Rudaw, quoting Barzani as assuring them.

[This article was originally published by Rudaw English.]