Kurdistan Regional

Kurdistan Regional (419)

President Nechirvan Barzani’s Nawroz message

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, March 20, 2021

My fellow citizens,

On the occasion of Nawroz and the Kurdish New Year, I extend my warmest wishes to the families of our fallen heroes and the victims of the Anfal genocide. I congratulate the Kurdish people and all my fellow citizens in Kurdistan and abroad, the Kurdistan’s of the diaspora, and our brave Peshmerga and the security forces. I also extend my best wishes to all the nations who celebrate Nawroz around the world. May Nawroz bring peace, happiness and prosperity to everyone.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude and warmest wishes to all the medical teams and relevant authorities that have been in the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to save lives and protect citizens for the second consecutive year.

We pay tribute to their colleagues who sacrificed their lives to save the lives of other people, and we honor the memories of all the people who lost their lives to the pandemic. I share the grief of their families and wish all the people battling the Covid-19 virus a speedy recovery. I thank the law enforcement authorities, police officers, security forces and the Peshmerga who have supported the efforts to contain the outbreak.

My fellow citizens,

Nawroz is a national celebration and a symbol of success, revival and freedom of the Kurdish people. It is a new year and a new beginning; it gives hope and empowers us. On this occasion, let’s learn lessons from our past mistakes, be kind and tolerant. Let’s look to a brighter future with optimism. Let’s build our strengths and  work together to overcome the challenges.

We need to stand united in order to achieve better livelihood for our fellow citizens and to secure the constitutional rights of the people of Kurdistan. We need to put an end to harmful rivalries and disagreements among political parties in the country. All of us, political parties and communities, needs to be tolerant as we work together for a better Kurdistan and to preserve its freedom and democratic principles.

Therefore, I will invite all parties to a joint meeting at the Kurdistan Region Presidency after Nawroz celebrations.

My fellow citizens,

We reiterate that the Kurdistan Region will cooperate and support any lasting settlement of the disputes with the Federal Government and the resolution of all the disagreements in Iraq, in order to maintain stability and peace in the country.

It must be recognized that the key to peace, stability and progress in Iraq is the resolution of the disagreements between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government.

We welcome any settlement that is not unilateral, and which safeguards the lawful rights of the people and components of Iraq, and preserves the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region, the federal system and the principles of partnership, consensus and balance. We urge the international community, the United Nations and the Security Council to support the resolution of Iraq’s problems.

On this occasion, once again we reiterate that the Kurdistan Region will remain a factor for peace, stability, coexistence, and tolerance. The Kurdistan Region will continue to cooperate, coordinate and work together with the international coalition and community. On the basis of mutual interests and values, the Kurdistan region will strengthen ties, cooperation and partnership with the regional neighbors and international communities. We will continue to confront terrorism and extremism.

I urge my fellow citizens to follow and respect all the necessary measures in order to protect themselves and others from the Covid-19 pandemic during the Nawroz holiday. As the Nawroz celebrations begin, I also urge my fellow citizens to drive safely and preserve the environment while camping outdoors.

May God bless Kurdistan, the people of Kurdistan and everyone around the world. Happy Nawroz to everyone. I hope all future celebrations are held in better conditions.

Nechirvan Barzani
The President of the Kurdistan Region

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Kurdistan Region President meets with Ambassador of Japan

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, March 17, 2021

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received Mr. Kotaro Suzuki, the Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, accompanied by the outgoing Head of the Consular Office of Japan, Ms. Nagayama Yoshiko.

Topics of discussion included Japan’s support and aid to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, especially the aid that is provided by the Japanese NGOs and government organizations in the country. Discussions also focused on strengthening of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region’s bilateral ties with Japan, investment opportunities for Japanese businesses in the Kurdistan Region, the COVID-19 pandemic, the terror threats and latest developments in the Kurdistan Region.

The President expressed the gratitude of the Kurdistan Region to the government and people of Japan for the services provided by the Japanese NGOs and government organizations, especillay in areas of electricity, water and sanitation.

Ambassador Suzuki commended the peace and stability in the Region and expressed his country’s readiness to strengthen ties with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. The Ambassador also thanked the Region for supporting and facilitating the work of Japanese organizations and NGOs in Kurdistan. Mr. Suzuki reaffirmed his country’s continued readiness to support Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

Discussions also focused on the status of the displaced people and refugees in the country. It was stressed that the displaced and the refugees should voluntarily return, after restoring security in their reconstructed home areas.

President Nechirvan Barzani thanked the outgoing Head of the Consular Office of Japan, Ms. Nagayama Yoshiko for her support and services.

 

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani Chairs Budget Bill Meeting

 Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today chaired a special meeting with relevant ministers in preparation for the tabling of the Kurdistan Region’s 2021 budget bill.

The Prime Minister, joined by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, reviewed estimated expenditures and revenues from relevant ministries and headed a discussion on the current financial situation in the Kurdistan Region and ongoing preparations for the tabling of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s 2021 budget bill.

The budget bill will take into account the realities of the current state of affairs in the region and will be based on transparent data, oil and non-oil revenues, anticipated deficits, and net expenditures, aimed at strengthening the public finances of the Kurdistan Region.

The Prime Minister also received updates on the latest developments regarding the 2021 federal budget bill, which is scheduled for a vote next week by the Iraqi Council of Representatives.

The Prime Minister stressed that the Kurdistan Region remains committed to finding a peaceful and sustainable solution to outstanding issues between the regional and federal governments, including the Kurdistan Region’s financial entitlements as outlined in the Iraqi Constitution.

The Prime Minister expressed hope that Iraqi parties would welcome and support a call for Federal Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to take immediate measures toward a political resolution between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal Government of Iraq.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Statement by the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, on the conclusion of His Holiness Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, March 8, 2021

We greatly recognize the value of His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, who made the journey despite all the concerns. I thank His Holiness sincerely. We are proud and honored by His Holiness’ praise of the culture of co-existence and tolerance in Kurdistan.

I thank all religious and ethnic communities in Kurdistan who took part in the reception ceremony and hosting of His Holiness, particularly the Muslim religious leaders and representatives of all other religious groups in Kurdistan and Iraq. They demonstrated the richness of Kurdistan’s culture, which is rooted in tolerance, fraternity and mutual respect among all its communities.

The only path towards healing the wounds of war and violence in Iraq, as His Holiness rightly pointed out in the Holy Mass in Erbil, is “tolerance, forgiveness and kindness which God expects from all of us.” As His Holiness emphasized, “God wants the heart to be cleaned, it must be purified from the falsehoods that stain it, from the duplicity of hypocrisy” and “revenge, which plunges us into a spiral of endless retaliation.”

We in the Kurdistan Region fully support His Holiness’ message of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and mutual respect, away from hatred, extremism, terror and revenge. These values are the pillars of the Kurdistani society and we continue to preserve them. I hope that, in both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, we resolve the disagreements with the spirit and power of these values and messages of peace and tolerance.

I thank the cooperation between Iraq’s Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government and all the relevant authorities which arranged this historic visit, in terms of protocol, organization and security, with excellence.

Nechirvan Barzani

Kurdistan Region President

 

Statement by the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, on the conclusion of His Holiness Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region - Presidency of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (gov.krd)

 

 

 

 

His Holiness Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to the Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, March 7, 2021

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received His Holiness Pope Francis, the Head of the Catholic Church, at the Erbil International Airport on Sunday morning.

As His Holiness descended the stairs to the tarmac at Erbil International Airport, Pope Francis pointed to the ground and told President Nechirvan Barzani: “I am happy that we meet again, here.”

Later at a meeting, attended by Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Mr. Masrour Barzani, Vice President Mr. Mustafa Said Qadir, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Qubad Talabani and Kurdistan Parliament Secretary Ms. Mona Qahwachi, President Nechirvan Barzani welcomed His Holiness and said: “On behalf of all communities in the Kurdistan Region, I warmly welcome you, Your Holiness. Your Holiness’ visit is a great historic event and the people of Kurdistan are very pleased and honored by it.”

The President of the Kurdistan Region stated: “We fully believe in religious freedom and a multi-faith society. Tolerance, coexistence, mutual respect among communities are the pillars of Kurdistan’s identity and culture. We intend to preserve this culture. We are always for peace and dialogue. We reject terror and extremism. We will never allow any religious or ethnic community to be subjected to terrorism and extremism.”

The President also stated that: “Kurdistan’s communities have fought against dictatorship and terrorism and have made great sacrifices together. Together, we share our past. We work together towards a shared and better future. Diversity, religious and ethnic communities have empowered and enriched Kurdistan Region. We do not want Christians, Yezidis, or any other community to leave their country.”

President Nechirvan Barzani reiterated that: “The Christian community is an ancient and main community of Kurdistan, who have peacefully contributed to the foundation, development and preserving the country in great ways. We have spared no efforts to protect them.”

The President concluded that: “Your Holiness’ visit will bring prosperity. We ask for your support and prayers for Kurdistan and all its communities.”

His Holiness Pope Francis stated: “Thank you very much, for this warm reception. I have wanted to visit the Kurdistan Region for a long time. I am happy that I was able to visit at your invitation. I greatly appreciate that you hosted the Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, Qaraqosh and other communities, although you were fighting a war at the time. You have embraced the Christians.”

His Holiness also stated: “I am here to pray for you, for the Christians, and for all of humanity, together with you. The enemy came to destroy this country, but you managed to serve the country genuinely, and hosted the refugees and other groups of people. War is destruction and annihilation. But you defeated the enemy and reconstructed your country. I have come to visit this land. You are pure in heart. You have been compassionate towards all. Pray for me too. Thank you for everything that you do for all the faiths and communities. Freedom is in place in Kurdistan. Thank you again for your warm reception and hospitality.”

 

Pope Francis's visit to the Kurdistan Region

 The Relationship between the Kurdistan Region and the Vatican

 

After the war for freedom in Iraq ended, a war which was a period of great terror and violence in the country’s history, the Kurdistan Region flourished as a peaceful and stable area where not only Iraqi Christians, but many others from all walks of life, came to for protection and acceptance. The first official and publicized meeting between senior Kurdistan Region officials and the Vatican was in 2005, when President Masoud Barzani visited the Vatican and was greeted by Pope John Paul II. On February 24, 2011, Pope Benedict welcomed President Masoud Barzani on another visit.

Pope Francis had his first meeting with President Masoud Barzani on March 13, 2013, and met a second time at the Vatican on May 30, 2014. The meeting coincided with the sudden influx of refugees to the Kurdistan Region, notably from the Nineveh province. Rather than focus on bilateral relations, Pope Francis and President Masoud Barzani took the opportunity to discuss the plight of Iraqi IDPs and Syrian refugees and jointly called for the world to help.

During that visit, thousands of Christians from the Nineveh province and other areas who had fallen under ISIS control were fleeing toward the Kurdistan Region. It was then that the relationship between the Vatican and the Kurdistan Region deepened, and officials from both sides began working closely together, culminating in a decision for Pope Francis to visit the Kurdistan Region.

On March 5, 2016, Vatican Ambassador to Iraq, Alberto Martin Ortega, thanked the people and the government of the Kurdistan Region for their hospitality in welcoming such a large number of refugees, who had to abandon their homes for safety.

At the time, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Pope Francis on March 2, 2015, to discuss steps the Kurdistan Regional Government was taking to ensure a peaceful life for refugees and IDPs. He spoke of the situation on the ground and how hundreds of thousands of innocent people were forced to leave their homes due to ISIS and threat of terrorism, and found refuge in the Kurdistan Region.

Former Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Pope Francis then met on January 12, 2018 in Vatican City, where they discussed ties between the Kurdistan Region and the Vatican, as well as the situation for Christians in Iraq.

In December 2018, Cardinal Petro Parolin, the Vatican’s Prime Minister, visited Erbil and met with senior officials in the Kurdistan Region. In an interview with Masrour Barzani on December 27, 2018, Parolin praised the role of the Kurdistan Region in providing for refugees to the greatest ability.

 

Pope Francis’ Visit to the Kurdistan Region

Current Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani, met with the Vatican’s Council of Justice on February 19, 2020 and presented Pope Francis a painting depicting the ethnic, religious, and cultural fabric of coexistence in the Kurdistan Region.

The Prime Minister met with Cardinal Petro Parolin, as the Kurdistan Regional Government announced its commitment to religious coexistence and called for discussions between religious representatives to foster a greater culture of acceptance, reconciliation, and harmony between the people.

Cardinal Parolin also expressed the Vatican’s support for the Kurdistan Region. He praised the people of Kurdistan’s role in the fight against terrorism and in helping protect the achievements of the Kurdistan Region. He recognised the humanitarian role the Kurdistan Regional Government played, and how it continues to promote peaceful coexistence and welcome people of all different religions and cultures, setting an example for the respect of all peoples.

 

Welcoming Ceremony for the Pope

Pope Francis will travel to the Kurdistan Region on March 7, 2021, and will meet with senior officials in the Kurdistan Region as well as visit areas where residents found refuge from terrorism and sectarianism in Iraq.

  • The reception ceremony will be held at Erbil International Airport.
  • On the same day, Pope Francis will visit Mosul and Qaraqosh.
  • In the courtyard of Bay'aa in Mosul, Pope Francis will lead a prayer for the victims of war.
  • At the Great Church of Al-Tarah in Qaraqosh, Pope Francis will lead mass.
  • On the evening of the same day, Pope Francis will lead a prayer at the Franso Hariri stadium in Erbil.

 

Pluralism and Diversity Culture

The Kurdistan Region has been a beacon of pluralism and diversity in the region, and with the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 1992, those principles were adopted by the official institutions of the region.

The Kurdistan Region celebrates the diversity of its people, and has always welcomed those who have lost their homes due to violence, political and religious persecution, and were looking to start a new life somewhere safe.

“You are the representative of peace, forgiveness and coexistence, and the role you play in this field is our pride,” Pope Benedict had told President Masoud Barzani in 2011. It was the Kurdistan Region’s welcoming nature which led the Vatican to issue this statement.

Pope Francis, in an interview with the Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on February 19, 2020, praised the role of the Kurdistan Region in confronting terrorism and in welcoming Christians, who have faced threats throughout Iraq and found safety in the Kurdistan Region.

The horrible attacks in June 2014 caused many Christians and Yezidis in Nineveh to flee to the Kurdistan Region, notably Erbil and Duhok. At that time, the Kurdistan Region was already hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria (Western Kurdistan). The Kurdistan Region continues to this day to serve and protect the hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs, regardless of their religious, national, and ethnic backgrounds.

The Kurdistan Region will continue to protect its land and its people, which includes Christians, Yezidis, and all minorities it has welcomed into its arms. On December 27, 2018, during his meeting with Cardinal Petro Barolin, Masrour Barzani recalled that when a group of ISIS members attacked the Kurdistan Region, and he had told his fellow Christians “We stand united, we have a common goal, so we live together and die together. The international community should protect Christians and allow them to stay on their own land, not force them to leave their homes to find safety.”

The people of Kurdistan have sacrificed a lot and understand the costs and efforts that come in the struggle to achieve peace and guarantee freedom for all those in the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Region continues to look toward leaders around the world, political and religious, for their support to celebrate and promote the Kurdistan Region’s culture of tolerance, and help the Kurdistan Region strengthen ties with the world, especially with the Vatican.

The Kurdistan Region will continue to protect its Christian minority, which hold five parliamentary seats in the region’s Parliament, whose children can study in their own language and are provided special accommodations at school, which holds special status within the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, and who contribute meaningfully to the political process, holding seats in the Presidencies, Parliament, and the Council of Ministers and helping shape the history of the Kurdistan Region.

 

The Role of the Peshmerga Forces

During the war against ISIS and amid violence in neighboring countries, the Kurdistan Region’s culture of coexistence and its hospitality became even more apparent as it welcomed nearly two million refugees and IDPs. The Kurdistan Region’s beauty and culture made headlines around the world and was the highlight during meetings with world leader. The Peshmerga Forces were recognised as heroes for their tireless work and sacrifice in protecting the peoples of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Kurdistan’s principles of peace and tolerance put the region on the map for the rest of the world to witness. The fearless struggle of the Peshmerga Forces to protect the innocent, no matter their religious or ethnic background, drew the support of leaders around the world, many of whom visited Erbil several times to show their support for the Kurdistan Region and the Peshmerga forces in person.

On March 5, 2016, Vatican Ambassador to Iraq, Alberto Martin Ortega, met with President Masoud Barzani and praised the heroic role of the Peshmerga forces in combatting ISIS. At the time, he expressed his support for the Peshmerga Forces to liberate areas that were still under terrorist occupation.

On November 10, 2019, Ambassador Ortega declared that the Peshmerga Force’s sacrifices was on behalf of all humanity and thanked the people and government of the Kurdistan Region for protecting refugees, IDPs, and minorities across the country during difficult times and keeping their doors open to the vulnerable and needy.

In recent years, the Peshmerga Forces have solidified their role as a shield that protects the people of the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and the world from terrorism and have become a symbol of resistance toward intolerance.

 

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