Kurdistan Regional

Kurdistan Regional (738)

President Nechirvan Barzani: Peaceful coexistence has become a great force of Kurdistan

 Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 5, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani participated in the opening ceremony of the new Patriarchal Society and Cathedral of the Assyrian Church of the East in Erbil, also attended by His Holiness the Patriarch Mar Awa III, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq and the world.

The ceremony was attended by a number of ministers, officials, diplomats, Christian and Islamic clerics and followers of the Assyrian Church of the East.

The following is a readout of President Nechirvan Barzani’s speech at the ceremony:

Your Holiness Patriarch Mar Awa III,
Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq and the world,
Religious leaders and dear attendees,

Good evening

I welcome you to the opening of the new Patriarchal Society and Cathedral in Erbil. I am very pleased to participate in this ceremony with you. I congratulate all followers of the Assyrian Church of the East in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and the world, and all Christians, on the occasion of the opening of this beautiful community.

On this occasion, we commemorate the late Patriarch Mar Denkha IV, former president of the Assyrian Church of the East, who decided to move the seat of the church from the United States to Erbil, but unfortunately passed away before that. May he rest in peace. May the opening of this cathedral bless his soul. It was a very brave decision. It was a great support to Kurdistan, and it created confidence for Christians to stay here in their country, to believe in it, and to not migrate.

Therefore, in 2014, when ISIS occupied much of Kurdistan and Iraq and much of Syria, a large number of Christians and others moved to the Kurdistan Region.

Today, together with the people of Erbil and Kurdistan, and with His Holiness Patriarch Mar Awa III, we are very pleased with the opening of this cathedral and this religious community in the Kurdistan Region.

I am sure that this beautiful society will be another center to strengthen the faith and sense of coexistence in Kurdistan Region and in Iraq; it will be another incentive to stay and not leave the country. The beauty of Kurdistan lies in its multi-ethnicity, multi-religiosity and multi-composition.

Christians are central to the beauty of coexistence in Kurdistan.

In Kurdistan, peaceful coexistence has become a strong culture that no regime or force has been able to destroy. Coexistence is a deep principle of faith of Kurdistan, regardless of nationality or religion. This coexistence in Kurdistan is so deep and strong that it has become a great strength for all of us and earned the respect of the world.

We all remember in Kurdistan, when US President Mr. Barack Obama, in his historic speech on the night of August 7, 2014, decided to fight the attack of ISIS, as he said: “Erbil is a red line for us.” One of the reasons he mentioned for the need to protect Erbil and the Kurdistan Region was that he said: ”In the region (Kurdistan), a very successful and strong coexistence has been built”.

It is a matter of pride for all of us that since the establishment of the Kurdistan Parliament in 1991, the need to have Christian and Turkmen representatives in the Kurdistan Regional Government and Parliament was one of the main decisions. At that time and until now, along with the Kurdish language, attention was paid to the Syriac and Turkmen languages. Christians and Turkmens began to study in their own languages.

The freedom achieved in the Kurdistan Region has brought revival to all nations, religions, and communities in Kurdistan. This coexistence has made Kurdistan a better place for us and has evoked the admiration of the world. We will not stop strengthening coexistence, rather, we will develop it further.

Dear participants

This region of ours, which was called Mesopotamia in ancient history, is a great center of life, humanity, and civilization. It was a mixed and diverse area of ethnicities. Mesopotamia was indeed the beautiful garden of the nations. Unfortunately, however, massive genocides occurred in the region as a result of foreign attacks. However, in Kurdistan, multi-ethnicity and multi-religiosity remained because the nations and religions here became the shields of mutual protection.

The history of coexistence in Kurdistan is old and has been renewed and strengthened by great historic leaders at many stages. As President Massoud Barzani has written and stated, this coexistence began at the beginning of the last century between Sheikh Abdulsalam of Barzan, Mar Benjamin Shamoun and Andrianik Pasha.

The agreement and common struggle between Sheikh Abdulsalam Barzani and Mar Benjamin Shamoun was reflected in the Barzan revolutions, the September and May revolutions, and continues to this day. With God’s help, it will grow stronger in Kurdistan.

That cooperation and mutual protection was, once again, widely renewed during the sectarian war in Iraq after 2003, after the terrorist attacks of al-Qaeda and after the attacks of ISIS terrorists. The Kurdistan Region has proudly become a safe haven for the protection of Christians and other Iraqi communities. That has been our duty and everyone is proud of it, then and now.

Unfortunately, after the outbreak of sectarian war and attacks by the terrorist organization al-Qaeda in southern and central Iraqi cities between 2004 and 2008, a total of 111 churches were blown up, or attacked. 1,315 Christian civilians were martyred, hundreds of Christians were kidnapped, and several bishops and shamashas were assassinated. Several Christian children were martyred and wounded on the way to school. Dozens of Christian properties were confiscated.

Fortunately, due to our coexistence and stability in the Kurdistan Region and the efforts of the Kurdistan Regional Government institutions, not a single church or Christian in the Kurdistan Region was harmed. Dozens of Peshmergas sacrificed their lives to protect and liberate the Christian villages and towns of the Nineveh Plains.

Tens of thousands of Christians have been displaced to the Kurdistan Region as a result of the attacks of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. In June 2014, 150,000 Christians fled to the Kurdistan Region and still live in Kurdistan.

Ankawa is now one of the largest Christian cities in the Middle East, with 86,000 Christians. Ankawa has always been treated specially by the Kurdistan Regional Government and has been treated with respect by the people of Kurdistan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Ministry and Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government which has always encouraged religious leaders to strengthen coexistence. I would also like to thank the Union of Islamic Religious Scholars of Kurdistan and the Islamic Religious Clerics in the Kurdistan Region for preventing the extremism against other faiths and religious coexistence.

At the same time, we thank the bishops and Christian clergy in the Kurdistan Region for not allowing any provocative voice, action, or behavior that would hurt the hearts of Muslims, or other religions in the Kurdistan Region, and have been against all such speech and action anywhere in the world.

Dear Attendees,

Progress and success is an outcome of diversity. Diversity has contributed to the progress of the world and humanity. Ethnic, religious, and sectarian wars have devastated and delayed many countries. But people with peaceful ethnic and religious coexistence have filled their countries and the world with technological progress. The path to the development of countries and the prosperity of nations is clearly peace, mutual respect and coexistence. We have chosen the right path and the path of God, as we believe in coexistence.

God could have created all peoples as one nation with one language, but He made plurality the mechanism of human progress by encouraging people to know each other, cooperate, and live together.

Now that I see a beautiful mosque in the same place and across the street, opposite this beautiful cathedral, I see a clear prospect for further strengthening coexistence in Kurdistan. I hope that every individual, every parent at home, every teacher in school, every religious figure in a shrine, teaches a lesson of coexistence every day. This is the will of God and the way for the progress of society. Let’s not give up that path and make it much stronger.

Once again, I congratulate you on the opening of this cathedral and this community.

I wish you peace and happiness.







President Nechirvan Barzani sets the date of Kurdistan Region elections

 Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 3, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani signed a decree today to determine the date of the Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections.

According to the decree, and as per the powers given to the President of the Kurdistan Region by the Presidency Law, President Nechirvan Barzani has set February 25, 2024 for the general elections to be held for the sixth term of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament.

The decree obliges all parties concerned to take the necessary steps to cooperate and coordinate with the Independent High Electoral Commission to implement this decree from the date of its issuance. The decree will be published in an official newspaper.

With regards to the signing of the decree, Mr. Dilshad Shahab, spokesperson of the Kurdistan Region Presidency said at a press conference today in Erbil that the date of the elections has been determined after consultations and discussions with the political parties.




President Nechirvan Barzani receives outgoing Ambassador of EU

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 3, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani received the outgoing European Union Ambassador to Iraq Mr. Ville Varjola in Erbil on Thursday. The President thanked Ambassador Varjola for his efforts to promote EU relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and wished him success in his future assignments.

For his part, Mr. Varjola thanked President Nechirvan Barzani and the relevant parties of the Kurdistan Region for their support in his mission.

The meeting also highlighted the situation in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.






President Nechirvan Barzani receives a Jordanian delegation

 Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 3, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani received First Deputy Speaker of the Jordanian Parliament, Mr. Ahmad Khalaila and his accompanying delegation in Erbil today.

The meeting highlighted the delegation’s current visit to Baghdad and Erbil to discuss Jordan’s relations with Iraq, especially its long-standing bonds with the Kurdistan Region, and to promote joint cooperation between the two sides.

President Nechirvan Barzani referred to the visit as a testament to Jordan’s enduring support for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. The President stated that the Kurdistan Region considers the bilateral relations between Jordan and Iraq important, and reiterated his support. The President also expressed the Kurdistan Region’s gratitude for the support of His Majesty King Abdullah II and the Kingdom of Jordan to the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

The guest delegation thanked the Kurdistan Region for its role in defeating ISIS, and expressed their admiration for the progress of the Kurdistan Region, stressing their country’s support for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. They also welcomed the opportunity for joint cooperation in the sectors of health, tourism, cultural, educational and trade exchanges

The meeting, also attended by the First Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, discussed the situation in the wider region and other issues of common interest.






President Nechirvan Barzani: There must be a swift and practical solution to the situation of the Yezidis

 Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 3, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani participated in the ninth anniversary of the genocide of the Yezidis and the Sinjar tragedy. The commemoration ceremony was arranged by the Yazda Organization, in Erbil today Thursday.

During the ceremony, also attended by Mr. Mustafa Sayed Qadir, Vice President of the Kurdistan Region, Mr. Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, a number of ministers and officials of the Kurdistan Region, diplomats, personalities and rescued Yezidis, foreign guests, academics, Yezidi, Muslim and Christian clerics, civil society representatives and a number of Yezidi survivors, President Nechirvan Barzani delivered the following speech:

Dear relatives of the victims of the Yezidi genocide,

Dear attendees,

Good day, and welcome to the commemoration of the dreadful tragedy of Sinjar and the genocide of the Yezidis.

Remembering the genocide of the Yezidis is a different and special commemoration, because, for me, the horrors of this genocide and tragedy are still ongoing and have not yet ended. A large number of abducted Yezidi women, children and men are still missing. As long as there is one kidnapped Yezidi left, this crime will haunt us and its consequences will still bring sorrow and pain to the Yezidis and the people of Kurdistan.

Today is the day when we all honor the heroism and sacrifice of the Peshmerga, who after the reorganization of their forces under the command of President Massoud Barzani, defeated the myth of ISIS on the ground. Greetings to the souls of the heroes who gave their lives to liberate Sinjar and protect the whole of Kurdistan. Thanks to the support of the international coalition against ISIS to the Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces.

Thanks to the people of the Kurdistan Region for opening their doors to the refugees, to the Yezidi refugees, especially the people of Duhok province who have cooperated in every way with the Yezidi brothers and sisters. It will never be forgotten when in Badinan, people opened their homes, schools and mosques to welcome and shelter the Yezidi brothers and sisters.

I commend the Yazda organization for arranging this ceremony. I also commend them for their work for the Yezidis. I hope they continue their work with strength. A special thanks to Ms. Nadia Murad for all the work she does for the Yezidis.

I thank all the parliaments, governments and organizations in the world that recognized the tragedy of Sinjar as genocide, and support the Yezidis in any ways. The latest one was the British government, which recognized the tragedy of the Yezidis as genocide on August 1. We thank them and call on other countries to recognize this great crime as genocide.

We in the Kurdistan Region respect and appreciate the position, solidarity, cooperation and support of these countries to the Yezidi community.

Dear attendees,

On August 3, another calamity came upon the Yezidis and another tragedy entered the history of the people of Kurdistan. No one imagined that such a brutal crime against humanity would be committed in the 21st century. This tragedy was heartbreaking; it hurt everyone and all communities in Kurdistan, as ISIS henchmen brutally kidnapped Yezidi women and children, bought and sold them, slaughtered and killed people, burned and destroyed Yezidi houses and temples. This crime was an unprecedented crime of our time.

As a result of this atrocity, more than 5,000 Yezidis were martyred by ISIS, including 400 people who were massacred in the village of Kojo. So far, 83 mass graves have been discovered, and 135,000 Yezidi refugees are still living in camps under tents and in difficult conditions, while 189,000 have been scattered in the Kurdistan Region after being displaced from Sinjar. 2,745 children have been left without parents due to ISIS attacks. This is in addition to thousands of other Yezidis who were displaced in Europe and other countries and separated from their homeland and relatives.

Unfortunately, 1,244 kidnapped Yezidi girls, women and 1,402 men and youth are still missing.

So far, 1,208 women, 339 men and 2,023 children have been rescued. I would like to thank the staff at the Kidnapped Yazidi Rescue Office, and their team members one by one. I reiterate: As long as there is one Yazidi kidnapped left, this section of my office will remain and will continue to find and rescue the kidnapped.

Dear attendees,

The situation of the Yezidis in the Sinjar region is dreadful; so many of the families who returned to Sinjar were forced to leave the city again, due to the lack of services, lack of security and peace, and lack of job opportunities.

The Iraqi Federal Government should pay special attention to the services and reconstruction of Sinjar, which is affected more than any other place by the ISIS attacks, because in Sinjar, besides houses, roads, families and the society as a whole were destroyed. A deep wound has been opened in the souls and minds of the Yezidis and the people of Sinjar, which will never heal easily, and will need the help and cooperation of all of us.

A crime was committed against the Yezidi people that has had a huge social and psychological impact. The impact of the genocide has been compounded by living without services and nine years of living under tents. We are aware of their difficult living conditions in the camps. It is the responsibility of all of us in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to change this situation.

The implementation of the Sinjar agreement will pave the way for the return of the people of Sinjar and the region. In order for the people to live in peace in Sinjar and its surroundings, all the forces that are not from Sinjar must leave the area, and the management and protection of Sinjar must be handed over to the people of Sinjar and a legal authority. PKK forces and all foreign forces must leave the area. These forces will only create disaster, and instability for Sinjar and the Yezidis, and deepen their wounds.

Ladies and gentlemen.

The Yezidis have a peaceful human belief. They do not attack anyone or any nation, they do not interfere in anyone’s religion, and they do not accept anyone to convert to their religion, this, in order to maintain lasting peace. They are utterly peaceful with all their surroundings. They have a beautiful saying about this:

In Bore Hur, ride

Listen to the soul

Be friends with all creatures

Yezidis and Yezidism have preserved their beliefs, literature and language in Kurdistan, because the language of worship of the Yezidis is Kurdish. You may meet a non-Yazidi Kurd in a city, or somewhere in Kurdistan, or abroad, who does not speak Kurdish, but you will not find any Yezidis anywhere who does not speak Kurdish.

The Yezidis have played an important role in all Kurdistan revolutions, which is why our ancestors taught us to love and respect the Yezidis. The enemies of Kurdistan have never spared the Yezidis. During the Anfal process, several Yezidi villages were obliterated.

The Yezidis have always been a prominent and beloved part of the people of Kurdistan and will remain so. The Yezidis and all Kurdistan communities, regardless of their religion and ethnicity, have always lived together peacefully. Today, I assure the Yezidi brothers and sisters and all communities in Kurdistan that our country, Kurdistan, will always remain a cradle of coexistence, mutual acceptance and tolerance and will never allow hatred and extremism.

Dear attendees,

The dreadful situation of the Yezidis has always been an important part of our discussions with the parties and officials of the world. Fortunately, an international consensus on (recognizing) the genocide of the Yezidis has been formed and is expanding, but unfortunately there is no consensus in Iraq on resolving the situation in Sinjar, which is an injustice being committed against the people of Sinjar.

It is now a critical time to call on the Kurdistan Parliament, the government and the political parties in Kurdistan and Iraq to hold a special meeting to follow up on the implementation of past decisions and find a swift practical solution to the situation in Sinjar.

Therefore, it is imperative that the parliament and all factions in the Iraqi parliament and the federal government take practical steps to normalize the situation in Sinjar.

Once again, we pay tribute to the souls of the victims of the Yezidi genocide. Thank you for your presence and participation.

Welcome, once again.







President Nechirvan Barzani meets with Defense Minister of Estonia

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 2, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani received Estonian Defense Minister, Mr. Hanno Pevkur, in Erbil this evening.

Their meeting highlighted the ongoing visit of the Estonian Defense Minister to his country’s forces in the Kurdistan Region, within the framework of the international coalition against ISIS, as well as the latest developments in the fight against terrorism and ISIS networks.

Both sides agreed on the need to continue the mission of the international coalition against ISIS to confront the threat of terrorism and to ensure the eradication of ISIS, which remains a serious threat to the security and stability in the wider region.

President Nechirvan Barzani expressed the Kurdistan Region’s gratitude for the participation and contributions of Estonia and its military forces in the Kurdistan Region and in the mission of the international coalition against ISIS, and stressed the importance of continued cooperation and joint coordination in this regard.

The developments in Iraq and the wider region and other issues of mutual interest were also discussed at the meeting.




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