Kurdish leader pleads for EU investment

Nov. 10, 2009 at 10:10 AM
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BRUSSELS, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The president of Iraq's Kurdistan region says the European Union should assist it in setting up its health, judicial and educational systems.

Speaking Tuesday in Brussels to the European Parliament's foreign relations committee, Massoud Barzani urged the EU to help Kurdistan "on how we can establish a successful administration, a good health and education system, and to have an independent judicial system and proper governance," the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.

Barzani urged European companies to invest in Kurdistan and promised his government would cooperate with the central government in Baghdad to fight terrorism, saying, "Our people have accepted coexistence with the rest of the people in the region. Baghdad is the capital of federal republic of Iraq. It is our capital."

KUNA said Barzani noted continuing disputes with Baghdad over oil revenue, saying that Kurdistan gets 17 percent of Iraq's oil proceeds and calling for the money to go directly to the autonomous region rather than passing through the Iraqi Finance Ministry.

He asserted Baghdad uses its control of the revenues to pressure Kurdistan into doing its bidding, the news service reported.

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