MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On June 7, Iraqi Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the autonomous region from Iraq on September 25, a decision which has been criticized by Baghdad.
"We have repeatedly stated that we support the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Iraq. Any decisions related to Iraq’s unity should be a consequence of negotiations process between Baghdad and Erbil in this case, the Russian ambassador said.
The Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum is viewed by a number of regional and international officials as a threat to both Iraqi and international security. The vote is set to be held throughout Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as territories of the Nineveh, Kirkuk, Saladin and Diyala provinces claimed by both Kurdish Iraq and Baghdad.
The Kurds, making up about 20 percent of the Iraqi population, have been seeking self-governance for decades. In 2005, Iraq’s Constitution recognized Kurdistan as an autonomous region, run by the Kurdistan Regional Government.