Swedish Prime Minister refers to Kurdistan Region as ‘Northern Iraq,’ angers many Kurds

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Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Kurdistan Region's PM Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil. Photo: NRT

ARA News 

Erbil – Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven visited the Iraqi Kurdistan Region last week and met with several Kurdish officials, including the Kurdistan Region’s PM, Nechirvan Barzani. Their talks focussed on the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) and several Stockholm-sponsored educational projects.

Nevertheless, the Swedish PM during his visit to Erbil avoided the use of the name ‘Kurdistan Region’ in his official statement, choosing to call the area ‘Northern Iraq’ instead.

This was odd as Iraqi constitutional law recognizes the existence of a Kurdistan Region, predicated on a 46-year-old autonomy agreement. While some of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) borders are disputed, the Iraqi state does not contest Kurdistan’s existence or Erbil’s role as its capital.

“Sweden has strong ties to this part of Iraq. It is central to discuss current developments and the offensive against Mosul with the Kurdish Regional Government and to discuss the Swedish contribution in the fight against Daesh,” the Swedish PM said in a public statement, employing an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Fredrik Malm, a Swedish MP from the Liberal Party, told ARA News on Saturday that he has also wanted to know why Löfven did not refer to the Kurdistan Region by its constitutional name.

“[The Prime Minister] says ‘this part of Iraq’ when referring to the KRG-area and I [want to know] why he is not using the correct Iraqi constitutional name, Kurdistan Region,” MP Malm told ARA News.

“According to the rules in parliament he has one week to answer my question, so I will get a written answer next Thursday,” Malm added.

Unsurprisingly, the Swedish Prime Minister’s statement has angered Sweden’s Kurdish community, which is well integrated and politically active. Several prominent members told ARA News that they were eager to see the Swedish government step up, and provide more support to the Kurds in the fight against ISIS.

Sweden joined the US-led coalition after ISIS attacked the Kurdistan Region in August 2014. Recently, the Swedish government increased the number of its advisors to the Kurdish Peshmerga from 35 to 70.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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