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Tuesday, 21 January 2014 07:00

Brussels, Belgium ( - Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani today addressed a special meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Union’s Parliament in Brussels.

In an event attended by a large number of MEPs, in his address the President talked about the latest political and security developments in Iraq, in Kurdistan and in the wider region.

He called on the EU parliament to show solidarity with the people of Kurdistan and called on them to help seek recognition of the crimes against the Kurdistan people in Iraq as crimes of genocide. He said, “We would like you to show solidarity with the rights of the people of Kurdistan. We also call on you to expend all your efforts to recognize the genocide against our people.”

The President attributed the relative stability and security in Kurdistan, to the policy of tolerance and peaceful co-existence between the various religious and ethnic communities in Kurdistan.

“In the aftermath of the 1991 March uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan, we did not set out seek revenge against the people who oppressed us. Again, after the fall of the regime in 2003, we did not take resort to revenge against anyone. We opened a new chapter with our own people and with others, and this greatly helped us focus our efforts on rebuilding our country and lessen the pains and suffering of our people. As a result of this policy, the Kurdistan Region enjoys a high degree of security and stability,” said the President.

Following the President’s address, a number of MEPs posed questions to the President, and they all hailed the important progress that Kurdistan has made in the areas of security, stability, and economic development. They particularly commended President Barzani’s leadership and the KRG for their generous policy of hosting large numbers of refugees and the religious tolerance that prevails in Kurdistan.

Full text of the address delivered by the President:

First, I would like to thank the EU Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee for inviting us here today. There is no doubt that the EU has an extremely important role to play and there is considerable potential for cooperation in many areas between the EU and Federal Iraqi Government as well as the KRG, particularly in economic and trade interest. As you are aware there is an agreement between the EU and the Iraqi Federal government, We hope the KRG will have a role to play within the framework of this agreement, to bring closer together the EU and our country, and the EU parliament and the Kurdistan Region.

I would like to here today to just briefly you of the tragic situation of the people of Kurdistan. They have suffered because of a number of hostile campaigns aimed at them in Iraq. We have been victims of chemical weapons and the infamous Anfal campaign in which 182,000 people disappeared, of which we have only been able to recover the remains of about 4,000 of them from mass graves across the southern Iraqi deserts. The search continues for the remaining victims. In the chemical attack on Halabja, in the space of just a few minutes, 5,000 innocent civilians, mostly women and children, were gassed to death.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We in the Kurdistan Region have adopted the policy of tolerance and peaceful co-existence and the accepting of each other. In the aftermath of the 1991 March uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan, we did not set out seek revenge against the people who oppressed us. Again, after the fall of the regime in 2003, we did not take resort to revenge against anyone. We opened a new chapter with our own people and with others, and this greatly helped us focus our efforts on rebuilding our country and lessen the pains and suffering of our people. As a result of this policy, the Kurdistan Region enjoys a high degree of security and stability. This has also helped many international companies from different countries to come to invest in Kurdistan. As a simple example, before 2003, per capita income in Kurdistan was less than 500 US dollars; now it is more than 5000 US dollars. We are at the beginning of the road in building democratic institutions, and we need your help and expertise to build these institutions. We would like you to show solidarity with the rights of the people of Kurdistan. We also call on you to expend all your efforts to recognize the genocide against our people. We also would like you to work with the relevant parties to establish an EU representation office in the Kurdistan Region, which would help enhancing economic ties between Kurdistan and the EU countries.

We would also like to urge you to support the political process in Iraq on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution and democracy and federalism, and in the fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, terrorism has become a dangerous phenomenon targeting all the peoples of the world. We ourselves have suffered a great deal from terrorism, but we are steadfast in our fight against it, as there is no other way in dealing with terrorism.

We have adopted the policy of tolerance and religious freedom. Women in Kurdistan play their role in building our society and institutions. We now host 250,000 Syrian refugees, mostly Kurds, but there are Arabs and Christina among them too. We are also hosting 200,000 Iraqi Arabs from center and south of the country, who fled to Kurdistan from threat of terrorism and in search of security. There are now 10,000 Christian families who have also fled from other parts of Iraq. In addition to this, some 15,000 people from the Anbar province have fled to Kurdistan.

We are proud of the fact that Kurdistan has become a haven for so many people. However, I must point out that the assistance from the international community for these refugees has not been in par with the assistance provided to refugees in other countries in the region.

As a factor of stability, we in the Kurdistan Region will continue with our policy and do all we can with other Iraqi groups to resolve our problems and to build the institutions of the state. We reiterate our commitment to the Iraqi Constitution. Once again, I would like to ask you for your support and assistance. Thank you very much.








Saturday, 18 January 2014 03:30

Kuwait City, Kuwait – ( – A delegation from Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, led by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari attended the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in which 68 countries and 24 international organisations participated.

Minister Zebari was accompanied by the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa.

The aim of the donor conference was to gain further humanitarian assistance for the Syrian refugees and internally displaced people who have been affected since the start of the conflict in March 2011.

The conference was opened by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and chaired by the UN Secretary-General  Ban Ki-moon. As the host of the conference, the Emir urged the international community to get together in order to help those who have been affected by the Syrian conflict and pledged $500 million to the cause.

Mr Ban thanked the Emir of Kuwait for his generosity and hospitality, and encouraged the international community to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees who have paid the biggest price for the ongoing war in Syria.

During his opening speech, the UN Secretary-General thanked all countries and international organisations for their presence and active participation.

Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Antonio Gutierrez, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and others addressed the conference and urged countries to make donations to meet UN’s $6.5 billion appeal for Syria.

Minister Zebari emphasised that  military intervention was not the  solution to the conflict in Syria, pinning hopes on the Geneva II Conference which is set to take place later this month.

This year Iraq pledged $13 million in addition to the $58 million it has already contributed in relief funds to the Syrian refugees and IDPs in Iraq.

The Kurdistan Region has seen a large influx of Syrian refugees in addition to the thousands of Iraqi families that have fled to the Region as violence continues in other parts of Iraq. There are currently over 250,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, including those who are registered and non-registered. The vast majority are in Kurdistan.

The KRG has so far provided $70 million in relief funds including the provision of basic needs such as food, shelter, clean water and sanitation, as well as emergency health care. However, the KRG is overstretched and has been calling for urgent international assistance.

Minister Mustafa, highlighted the importance of the conference as well as the role Kuwait and the UN have played in helping the vulnerable people fleeing Syria. 'The KRG is committed to helping the refugees and appreciates any contributions made,' he said, adding that the need to end the violence is of paramount importance.

The United States of America was among the most generous donors, contributing $380 million.

The one-day conference concluded with donor countries pledging a total of $2.4 billion to help the Syrian refugees. This exceeds the $1.5 billion raised during last year's International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria.

In the margins of the conference, the Iraqi delegation, led by Minister Zebari and including KRG Minister Mustafa, met with the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, and Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, to discuss bilateral relations, the Syrian crisis and the Geneva II Conference. 





Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:00

Salahaddin, Kurdistan Region of Iraq ( – Kurdistan Region Presidency Chief of Staff, Fuad Hussein, said in a statement that President Masoud Barzani along with a KRG delegation began a visit to a number of European countries on Wednesday.

Fuad Hussein said that the President is scheduled to meet a number of world leaders and officials. He will also attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where is due to meet several leaders and attend a number of sessions on the economic and political developments in Kurdistan, in Iraq, and in the wider region.

Kurdistan Region Presidency Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein, KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami, and KRG Head of Foreign Relations Department Falah Mustafa will accompany the President on this visit.




Friday, 17 January 2014 07:00
Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq - ( – The Kurdistan Region is open to any country that wants to engage with it politically and economically and to share in its development, President Masoud Barzani says in the Kurdistan Review, a publication launched this week.
The Kurdistan Review, published by Invest In Group, is a joint project in partnership with the Kurdistan Regional Government's Department of Foreign Relations (DFR). It consisted of three quarterly reviews published in 2013 followed by the annual review launched last week.
In the publication, President Barzani says, ‘Our strategy is one of openness, and extends to any and all countries that are interested in developing relations with the Kurdistan Region.’
Speaking about the strong ties between Kurdistan and Turkey, President Barzani says, ‘This relationship further reflects the idea that the modern world is based on mutual interests, particularly those relating to economics. Above all else, economics allows for development and the pursuit of solutions to complex problems.’
The Kurdistan Review's annual publication includes three supplements: a guide to key attractions in Erbil, a detailed document outlining the latest facts and figures across the Region reflecting its economic growth, and a start-up guide for businesses seeking to establish a foothold.
Invest In Group conducted over 100 interviews with high-ranking officials and executives from successful private companies operating in Kurdistan. The annual publication also contains new investment opportunities, strategies and projects by KRG ministries and departments.
Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, signed the agreement with IIG in November 2012. Commenting about the launch of the publication, he said, 'This is the most comprehensive report to cover our key industries and economy. I believe it will present readers with the latest information about our continued growth, the areas where the authorities are seeking outside expertise and the many opportunities for trade and investment. Our broad aim is to show that Kurdistan is open to making new business and diplomatic relationships while maintaining old ones.'
Can Yirik, the Regional Director of Invest In Group, said, ‘During the  project, our team met with all the key figures from the public and private sector in order to present a comprehensive picture of the economy and to portray the most up to date economic developments in the Kurdistan Region.’
Thursday, 16 January 2014 17:30

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq – ( – The Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, Masato Takaoka, met today with the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), Minister Falah Mustafa as part of his farewell visit to Kurdistan as his tenure in Iraq comes to an end.

The Assistant Head of the DFR, Siham Jabali and Takashi Matsumoto from the Japanese Embassy also attended the meeting.

Minister Mustafa and Ambassador Takaoka spoke about the progress made in bilateral relations since the Ambassador‘s posting to Baghdad. During his tenure, Ambassador Takaoka has supported a number of political, commercial, and humanitarian initiatives in the Kurdistan Region. 

Both sides also discussed the Syrian refugee crisis, with Minister Mustafa briefing the Ambassador on the outcomes of the 2nd International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, which took place in Kuwait City yesterday. Minister Mustafa went on to thank Japan for their role and humanitarian contribution in the Kurdistan Region.

Ambassador Takaoka informed Minister Mustafa that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) observation field visit to the Basrma refugee camp was a great success and received a lot of press coverage from a major Japanese news agency.

Ambassador Takaoka thanked Minister Mustafa for his warm hospitality and support during his post as the Japanese Ambassador to Iraq.

Minister Mustafa wished the Ambassador success in his new posting and concluded by saying, ‘I enjoyed working with you and I look forward to working with your successor.’ With its open door policy, the KRG looks forward to further strengthening bilateral relations with Japan as Ambassador Takaoka’s successor begins his new post.








Sunday, 12 January 2014 03:30

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq – ( – The Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa, today met with Alfred Bratanek, Deputy Head of Mission in the Austrian Embassy in Amman, Jordan along with a joint delegation from the Austrian and Slovenien Foreign ministries, to discuss the opening of a new visa center in Erbil.

The Assistant Head of the DFR, Siham Jabali, and the KRG Representative to Austria, Dr. Mustafa Ramazan also attended the meeting.

The purpose of Mr. Bratanek’s visit to Kurdistan is the initiation of the first visa center of its kind – the center runs through a private company.

Minister Mustafa was briefed on the mechanism of the visa process and was assured that this step will provide yet another opportunity to further enhance and intensify the existing mutual ties between Austria and Kurdistan.

The Minister assured the visiting delegation that the KRG appreciates the efforts of the Austrian and Slovenian governments and stressed that steps such as the opening of this office would pave the way for increased relations between all sides involved.

Also discussed during the meeting was future cooperation in the fields of tourism, economy, agriculture as well as educational and cultural exchange programs between the countries and the Kurdistan Region. Minister Mustafa said, ‘We are in favor of a long term strategic relationship benefitting both sides.’

The Kurds and the KRG have a long standing relationship with the people and government of Austria. During times of suffering, the Republic of Austria opened its doors to fleeing refugees.

The opening of a visa center is part of a greater Austrian initiative to expand commercial ties between the two governments.

Minister Mustafa concluded the meeting by thanking Mr. Bratanek and his delegation and said, ‘This is good news for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole and you can count on us as a friend and a partner.’





Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:30

Salahaddin, Kurdistan Region of Iraq ( – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani today welcomed UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in the capital Erbil.

In their meeting, the President and the UN Secretary General talked about the situation of Syrian refugees in Kurdistan, the conflict in Syria and preparations for the Geneva II conference, and relations between Erbil and Baghdad.

The UN Secretary General praised the security and stability and development that the Kurdistan Region enjoys and added that the Kurdistan Region has come a long way in terms of reconstruction, provision of services and construction.

Mr. Ban Ki Moon also thanked the President and the people and government of Kurdistan for taking in the Syrian refugees and said that the UN plans to increase its humanitarian assistance to the refugees in Kurdistan.

After warmly welcoming the UN Secretary General, President Barzani said the Kurdistan Region opened its doors to Syrian refugees at the beginning of the conflict. He said providing refuge to the Syrian refugees is both a humanitarian and national obligation for our people. Due to large numbers of refugees, the Kurdistan Region is unable to adequately assist the refugees, said the President. He asked the UN and the international community to help the KRG meet its duty to help the refugees.

On the planned Geneva II conference, President Barzani expressed his hope that it leads to a positive outcome, where the refugees could return to their homes and there would be an end to the suffering of the Syrian people.

On relations between Erbil and Baghdad, the President reiterated that Iraq is government by a constitution which defines the both the relationship between the Region and Baghdad, and the rights and responsibilities of each side. “We are committed to this constitution and commitment to this constitution is a prerequisite for Iraq to remain one country. We ask all sides to be committed to this constitution, and it is our policy to use dialogue to resolve our problems based on the constitution,” said the President.

President Barzani reaffirmed KRG’s full support and cooperation with the UN and its agencies based in Kurdistan.





Friday, 10 January 2014 07:00

Salahaddin, Kurdistan Region of Iraq ( – President Barzani today met with Iraq’s acting Defence Minister Sadoon Al-Dulaimi in Salahaddin.

In their meeting, Mr. Dulaimi briefed the President about the security as well as political aspects of the current crisis in the Anbar province, and Iraqi government’s response to reestablish peace and security in that province.

President Barzani reiterated that all sides should work together in the fight against terrorist groups. He also emphasized the need to resort to dialogue with the tribal leaders of the Anbar province to restore security in the province.




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