For us, any change in our status must be based on three fundamental pillars:
First, any evolution of our current structure and relationship with Baghdad must be peaceful and negotiated.
Second, the legitimate rights and freedoms of the Kurdish people, including those in the areas now liberated from ISIS control must be respected.
Third, we will stand firmly by our assertion that it is the right of the Kurdish people to determine their own fate, whether inside a federal system, or, as an independent state.
Bearing these fundamental points in mind, we will approach these discussions and negotiations carefully, but with a firm and steady commitment to both principle and reality.
We know that security and stability are basic components of any successful investment regime. We take our responsibilities in this area very seriously. In spite of all regional challenges, we have successfully managed to maintain personal security and stability in Kurdistan, thanks in no small part to our brave Peshmerga and security forces and the US-led coalition in the fight against ISIS.
Unfortunately, in the past two years forces beyond our control slowed our progress. Unrest in Syria has sent almost 300,000 refugees into our region, and the advance of ISIS through Iraq has caused more than 1.5 million Iraqis to find safety in Kurdistan. The 30% increase in our population has stretched our resources to the literal breaking point and our economy has taken a hit. Sustaining the fight against ISIS along our 1,050 km internal border has been very costly.
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