France reaffirms support to the Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 29, 2021

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, accompanied by Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Mr. Masrour Barzani, and Kurdistan Region Speaker of Parliament, Ms. Rewaz Fayeq, received the President of France, Mr. Emmanuel Macron and his accompanying delegation, in Erbil on Sunday.

Discussions focused on latest developments in Iraq and the wider region, the Baghdad Cooperation and Partnership Summit, which was held in Iraq’s capital and was attended by President Macron and a number of regional and neighboring leaders.

Developing Kurdistan Region’s relations with France and areas of mutual cooperation, the dangers of terrorism and threats posed by ISIS and ways to confront it, upcoming Iraqi elections, the situation in Syria and the Kurdish question in the country were highlighted.

President Macron referred to the strong relations between France and the people of Kurdistan, and reiterated his country’s continuing support to the Kurdistan Region. Mr. Macron commended the Kurdistan Region, the role of the Peshmarga and President Masoud Barzani in defeating ISIS.

At the meeting, France’s continuing support to the Kurdistan Region was affirmed and the importance of cooperation and coordination with France and the international community were underlined in finding solutions to Iraq’s problems and resolving Erbil-Baghdad disputes. France’s constructive role and efforts to maintain peace and stability were highlighted.

The status of the refugees and the displaced people, the situation of religious and ethnic communities in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, the importance of implementing the Shingal agreement, as well as efforts to help the refugees to return to their home areas were underlined.

The meeting was attended by the Kurdistan Region Vice Presidents and Deputy Prime Minister, a number of Kurdistan Region officials, head of Foreign Relations Department, Kurdistan Region Representative to France, as well as France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, a number of diplomatic and military officials and advisers, France’s Ambassador to Baghdad and France’s Consul General in the Kurdistan Region.

Following their meeting, President Nechirvan Barzani and President Emmanuel Macron held a joint press conference. The following is a readout of the press conference.

President Nechirvan Barzani:

“Good evening to all;

“We are pleased to welcome President Macron to Erbil. On behalf of the people of the Kurdistan Region I warmly welcome you Mr. President to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

“In our meeting, we discussed our mutual relations, the security and political situation in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, as well as the upcoming elections in Iraq. We also discussed the latest developments in the region and exchanged views and observations about future. We reiterated the need to further strengthen our relations, partnership and cooperation, and stressed the continuation of support from France to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region against ISIS.

“At this sensitive moment as Iraq prepares for its fifth elections, President Macron’s visit to Baghdad and Erbil is highly valued as it clearly signals France’s continuation of support to the democratic process in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. We highly value and appreciate this visit.

“Mr. President your role in bringing together the leaders and holding the Baghdad Summit was essential and vital. Thank you for this important initiative and for your Excellency’s support to Iraq. We hope that the outcomes of the summit bring stability and peace to Iraq and the wider region. We hope that with the continuation of your Excellency’s efforts and support the differences in the wider region are resolved.

“I greatly appreciate President Macron’s support and role in the resolution of the tensions with Baghdad in the fall of 2017 and in supporting the Kurdistan Region to restart the political and diplomatic negotiations. With his Excellency’s support, Erbil and Baghdad restarted the talks which helped restore peace and mutual understanding.

“We in Iraq need support to confront ISIS which still poses a great threat to Iraq, the region and the world. We need support to maintain stability, to strengthen democracy and to start up state institutions. We need support to continue reforms and progress, to help all communities take part in governance and administration, and to strengthen coexistence. We need support so that all communities, especially the Christians and the Yezidis experience trust and security.

“Therefore, we look forward to the continuation of cooperation and support from France as an influential partner and a permanent member of the Security Council with active role and position on the world stage in confronting terror and facing the impacts of climate change.

“Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have the potentials to become great partners with France in many areas including commerce, energy, economy, culture, academic exchange, science and other areas. French companies can contribute greatly to the development and progress of work, projects and investment opportunities with the full support from the Kurdistan Region.

“I welcome you Mr. President, once again.

“Merci beaucoup”

Then President Macron addressed the reporters and stated:

“Thank you… Thank you very much for this dialogue with your Excellency, the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Vice Presidents of the Region. Thank you everyone. Indeed, it was important to be with you and I am glad that I am in Erbil.

“There is a special kind of friendship between France and Kurdistan. The Kurdish people have a strong friendship with the people of France. This social and cultural relationship existed, especially when our soldiers came here and stood alongside the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi security forces, and cooperated with them, these relations became even stronger.

“I can say that our soldiers also had a good role with the Syrian Democratic Forces, and today I reiterated to President Barzani the sympathy of France and reassured him that we will continue to help in the war against ISIS, so that ISIS does not reappear on the borders of Iraq and Syria, because this war is linked to the security of the Kurdistan Region, Iraq and the region and Europe too.

“The Kurdistan Region has shown generosity towards the Yazidis and Syrian refugees from Syria and from the rest of Iraq who went to the region. France was on your side in helping the displaced. France was generous in its aid, and in the coming days we will deliver government aid to the hospital for the victims of the chemical bombing of Halabja. Our coordination in this field will continue.

“Yesterday, I assured the Iraqi Prime Minister that it is necessary to direct our relations towards the interests of the people, and in particular to make every effort for the sake of the displaced and refugees here. On the issue of Sinjar, the Kurdistan Region was in contact, so we and the Iraqi government are also striving to create a ground that would contribute to the return of these people to their homes. Likewise with the Christians, we will do everything we can for their return. In the same way, we will be with you on the question of Rojava in order for these people to return to their homes. In general, it is important to create an atmosphere for reconciliation in the region. We are with stability in the region, and with achieving peace.

“It is important that the actors in the region work together for this goal, that the participants in the conference yesterday, the Iraqi Prime Minister and the rest of the officials of the countries, coordinate with interest to confront terrorism and take the role of the Kurds as well. You have an important role in this context. We were very pleased to have met today with President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani.

“And soon, I will meet with the Peshmerga forces. I want to assure you of France’s loyalty to you and its friends, and to the Kurds in general.

“Thank you very much.”

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