KRG Prime Minister Receives Canadian Ambassador to Iraq

On Wednesday, November 1, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) received Kathy Bunka, the newly appointed Canadian Ambassador to Iraq.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister extended his congratulations to Ambassador Bunka and affirmed the KRG's unwavering support for enhancing the relationship between Canada and the Kurdistan Region.

Ambassador Bunka, in turn, expressed Canada's keen interest in strengthening ties with the Kurdistan Region, particularly in areas such as investment, trade, and cultural exchanges.

The discussions also touched upon important topics, including reinforcing the Iraqi federal system, addressing the challenges posed by climate change, and benefiting from Canada's expertise in this field.





KRG Prime Minister Meets with French Ambassador to Iraq

On Saturday, October 28, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held discussions with Éric Chevalier, the Ambassador of France to Iraq.

The meeting covered recent developments in the wider region, bilateral relations and also delved into the imperative of upholding the constitutional rights and financial entitlements of the Kurdistan Region, especially in light of the KRG's submission of comprehensive data to the Iraqi government and the Finance Committee at the Iraqi parliament.

Both sides stressed the urgent need for the federal government to disburse the financial entitlements owed to the region, thereby preventing further encroachment on the rights of public sector employees in the area.

The talks also emphasised the vital importance of maintaining security and stability in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, underscoring the need to protect diplomatic envoys and coalition forces.





Prime Minister Barzani’s speech at the Catholic University of Erbil graduation

First and foremost a very warm welcome to all of you who have gathered tonight to celebrate the commencement ceremony of the Class of 2023 of the Catholic University of Erbil.

The ground we are standing on today is sacred in more ways than one. Not only is it the property of a Church and a campus that has provided a first rate education for youth from around our region.

It was also built on land that served as a sanctuary during some of the darkest times of our modern history. As Nineveh and Sinjar were embattled during the rampage of the Isis terror group, construction on this campus continued.

Christians, Yezidis, Kurds and Muslims flocked to this area, and all were received with grace and dignity. Erbil became a sanctuary for the dispossessed. Anyone who came here during those terrible years had a chance to start again.

The institution that stands before us now is a testament to resilience, yours and ours. Good prevailed over evil in this land, and today we are witnessing the results; a graduating class that can enter a workforce equipped and motivated to give back a place that has offered hope and opportunity.

I believe in the society that has been created here; a model of coexistence, where people of different faiths can prosper alongside each other. There are few other places in our region where this model has been so successful; where ancient faiths and customs flourish as an example to us all.

My government, and the previous administration offered bedrock security guarantees that have encouraged the best and brightest and their families to stay and seek lives here. I look at the audience in front of me with pride.

For all of you who are graduating, I congratulate you. To the families here to witness this occasion, I thank you for the support you have offered to your sons and daughters. University education is a team effort, and the roles that families play, the sacrifices they make is often overlooked. It isn’t today.

I also want to thank faculty and lecturers for putting your education above their personal needs. At times, I’m sure, their own lives, and families, will have taken a backseat in the pursuit of your advancement.
The sacrifices you have all made to get this graduation class to this day are all worth it.

There is no substitute for the accomplishments that stem from hard work. We are at our most fulfilled when we achieve a task that we commit ourselves to doing. Each of you now has the chance to fulfill paths that you committed yourselves to when you enrolled in this institution. The Catholic University of Erbil is the only university named as Catholic from Malaysia to Morocco.

Since 2015 it has served as a light on the hill for graduates that have given back to their communities. As well as serving as a centre of learning, it has been a place of regeneration and of certainty for the cradle of civilisation - the ancient plains of Nineveh, on which barbarians attempted to erase thousands of years of tradition and history.

They failed. You are part of a graduating year that will help consolidate the recovery.

My government will always prioritise education. As I told other graduating students this month, I am committed to empowering you with all the tools necessary to realise your full potential. In the past I have spoken about the Kurdistan Region becoming a knowledge nation. You are within your right to ask what that means for you graduates. I have been clear that our human capital is the greatest national asset we have, and in particular our youth.

I know you all have a voice; I know you are ambitious and see your peers from the region and beyond and believe you deserve a life of security and prosperity that is at least equal to them. Our mission is to ensure that happens. My priority is to bridge your aspirations with the tools and opportunities to do so. We have made important progress here, but this cannot happen through the government alone.

Each of you has a role to play too. You will have to prepare yourselves to engage in global questions. It is easy to be complacent; to feel that these issues do not affect you. But questions like climate change, water and food scarcity and poverty do not recognise borders; they touch everybody. And they affect you too. In Kurdistan’s near future you will have a voice in these debates, and you will be expected to present alternatives - to bring forth ideas, for example, in ways to safeguard the environment.

You will also be encouraged to play a role in investing in early education through technology and partnerships with research centres and the private sector.

Some of you here will no doubt go on to continue your education. Some of you will probably go on to start your own businesses and take on the next big ideas. Whatever you do, we will be here to back you, celebrate your success and advance your ideas. There are big expectations for your generation.

I encourage you to go beyond your forebears; the more that Kurdistan integrates regionally and connects to the global economy, as is our firm goal, the more we as a nation will need to compete. Your ideas, products and inventions will need to cater to the needs of people and businesses beyond Kurdistan. We will support you in these endeavours.

To the Class of 2023 you will go forth into the world with new friends and new understandings. I’m sure that everyone of you has learned from your peers about their traditions and cultures.

I am equally sure that you will leave this institution with respect for each other and a commitment to not let the mistakes of history repeat. Co-existence is not only possible, but vital. As Kurds, we have long held belief as central to the way that we live. My government is committed to offering protections to groups who do not have the means to protect themselves.

We will always be especially well disposed to communities who give back. Your contribution as part of our society will always be welcomed. I encourage you to embrace a broader community. Together we stand united, and this is a lesson that I would like you to leave with tonight. Your years of education have not only equipped you with skills for the workforce, but an understanding of how society can and should be organised.

Take these lessons forward with you. Each and everyone one of you now has the chance to make a contribution to the betterment of humanity.
Go forth and prosper. I am very proud of you all.





KRG Prime Minister Welcomes Al-Ittihad Sports Club

On Sunday, November 5th, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) hosted a meeting with Saudi Arabia's Al-Ittihad Sports Club.

The meeting, which was also attended by Mohamad bin Suleman Al Oseri, Consul General of Saudi Arabia in the Kurdistan Region, saw the Prime Minister extend a warm welcome to the club's president, coaches, and players. He underlined the significant role of sports, not only in providing enjoyment and health benefits but also in fostering unity and reconciliation among nations by bringing people together.

In response, the president and players of Al-Ittihad Club expressed their delight at visiting the Kurdistan Region and conveyed their heartfelt appreciation for the warm welcome extended by the people of Erbil.





KRG Prime Minister Meets with US Ambassador to Iraq

On Wednesday, November 1, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a meeting with Alina Romanowski, the US Ambassador to Iraq.

The meeting highlighted the critical importance of disbursing the Kurdistan Region's financial entitlements, especially in light of the comprehensive data and information provided by the KRG to the Iraqi government.

Additionally, both parties discussed the vital role of maintaining security and stability in Iraq, with a specific focus on safeguarding diplomatic missions and coalition forces in both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.





KRG Prime Minister Meets with British Ambassador

On Saturday, November 11, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a meeting with Stephen Hitchen, the United Kingdom's Ambassador to Iraq.

The discussions centered on the most recent political and security developments in the region, with both sides emphasising the critical importance of preserving Iraq's stability, security, and neutrality, while ensuring the safety of coalition forces and diplomatic missions within the country.

The importance of holding the Kurdistan Region's parliamentary elections as scheduled was also a key point in their discussions.





KRG Prime Minister Welcomes Iraq’s Federal Prime Minister

KRG Prime Minister Welcomes Iraq’s Federal Prime Minister

On Thursday, November 9, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) welcomed Iraq’s Federal Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani at Erbil International Airport.






President Nechirvan Barzani meets with UK Ambassador to Iraq

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, November 10, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani held a meeting with Mr. Stephen Charles Hitchen, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Iraq, Friday evening. The focus of their discussion was on strengthening the relations between the UK and both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. They also addressed Erbil-Baghdad relations and potential solutions to resolve outstanding issues. Additionally, the internal situation in the Kurdistan Region and the latest developments in the Middle East tensions were highlighted.

The President and the UK’s ambassador both expressed optimism about the recent meeting between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). They emphasized the need to maintain the Erbil-Baghdad dialogue to find effective solutions. Furthermore, they referred to the visit of the Prime Minister of Iraq to the Kurdistan Region, which took place a day before the meeting.

 Another important topic of their conversation was the Middle East crisis and its potential impact. They agreed on the significance of preserving peace and stability in the region, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that Iraq does not become entangled in the conflict.

The security of coalition forces in Iraq, as well as the relations between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region with neighboring countries and the wider region, were also addressed during the meetin





President Nechirvan Barzani meets with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, November 9, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani held a meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister Mr. Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani in Erbil on Thursday evening.

The two leaders engaged in discussions covering a wide range of topics, including the political, security, and economic situation of the country. They also emphasized the significance of maintaining strong relations between Erbil and Baghdad and of bolstering the federal government’s plans and programs aimed at serving the best interests of the country.

Additionally, the meeting focused on the upcoming parliamentary elections and the importance of supporting the Independent High Electoral Commission to ensure free, fair and transparent elections, overcoming the challenges and maintaining peace and stability.





President Nechirvan Barzani at Paris press conference: Iraq should not be drawn into regional conflicts

Paris, France, November 3, 2023

President Nechirvan Barzani held a press conference in Paris on Thursday following his meeting with French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron, in which they discussed a range of issues concerning the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and the wider region.

The following is a readout of the President’s remarks:

“In our meeting with President Macron today, we covered a range of topics, including strengthening Iraq’s and Kurdistan Region’s relations with France. Given France’s strategic agreement with Iraq, we emphasized the importance of both sides adhering to this agreement as soon as possible. As you are aware, France has played a major role in supporting Iraq politically and militarily, particularly in the fight against ISIS. We also discussed the ongoing issues between Erbil and Baghdad and advocated for a resolution through dialogue and understanding. President Macron reaffirmed France’s commitment to supporting both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.”

President Nechirvan Barzani addressed the Erbil-Baghdad talks, the resolution of matters between the two parties, and the oil export in response to a question. “The problem at hand primarily lies between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, rather than France and Iraq. President Macron’s recent statements have focused on finding ways to assist both sides in resolving their disagreements. The oil issue was also discussed during the meeting, as Türkiye has expressed its willingness to facilitate oil exports. Currently, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation is engaged in intensive negotiations in Baghdad, aiming to find a resolution to these matters. The hope is to resume oil exports at the earliest opportunity.”

In answer to a question, the President commented on the possibility of further postponing the Kurdistan parliamentary elections: “In today’s meeting, we didn’t discuss this issue. As the Presidency and the President of the Kurdistan Region, we have fulfilled the responsibility of setting the election date and we are fully committed to it. It is crucial that everyone involved also upholds their commitment to holding the elections on time. The elections are of great concern and bear on the legitimacy of the Kurdistan Region. Neither are we in favor of postponement, nor have we made an agreement with any party, nor have we discussed postponing the elections. In light of this, we may schedule a meeting with the PUK this week to address these concerns as well as other matters pertaining to the Kurdistan Region. Our aim is to find a suitable solution to all the current problems.”

When questioned about the purpose of visiting the French Ministry of Defense and extending an invitation to President Macron to visit the Kurdistan Region, President Nechirvan Barzani responded, “Our plans included a meeting with the French Foreign Minister, but unfortunately, the Minister is currently out of the country. However, President Macron recommended that we speak with the Defense Minister regarding security matters in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, as the Defense Minister has previously visited the area. The third Baghdad Conference [for Cooperation and Partnership] has been delayed, and I extended an invitation to President Macron to visit the Kurdistan Region during his upcoming trip to Iraq which he gladly accepted.”

President Nechirvan Barzani addressed the concerns regarding Iraq and the surrounding region, as well as the resolution of the Kurdistan Region’s salary and budget matters, in response to a separate question. “During our conversation, we covered more than just Iraq. The events occurring in the surrounding region that could impact both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region were also a major topic. President Macron himself mentioned this before our meeting, and we delved into the details. As for salaries, it’s important to note that the Kurdistan Regional Government has been transparent and has provided all necessary data to Baghdad. There’s no reason for the Iraqi Government to withhold public employee salaries, as they are a part of Iraq. We expect this issue to be resolved quickly, as it shouldn’t be a long-term news item in the media. Our hope is that Baghdad will meet the agreements and expectations of the Kurdistan Region.”

Regarding the issue of oil exports, the President said, “The issue lies with Baghdad as Türkiye has expressed their readiness to receive it. However, there are still certain measures that need to be agreed with Baghdad, particularly regarding the contracts of oil extraction companies in the Kurdistan Region, which differ from those in Iraq. Iraq refers to these contracts as services, whereas ours are distinct. For instance, in the budget law, they have only allocated six dollars per barrel of Kurdistan oil, which is extremely low. This amount should be increased in line with what has been set for themselves, but not for the Kurdistan Region. Baghdad must address this matter. I cannot assert that the problem is political and that Baghdad will hinder the flow of oil. In my perspective, it is a technical issue that necessitates finding an appropriate solution between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad. Iraq has incurred a loss of approximately $5 billion in oil exports from the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Region could have contributed to resolving this matter. The cessation of oil exports is not only detrimental to the Kurdistan Region, but also to the entirety of Iraq. We hope that Baghdad will view it similarly and find a suitable solution.”

The President addressed the issue of regional problems affecting the Kurdistan Region and emphasized the importance of the Kurdistan Region’s relationship with France in safeguarding against these problems and the threats they pose. “The issue at hand in the region is not limited to a single place; it has a widespread impact on the entire region. During our discussion with President Macron, we emphasized the urgency of delivering humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza. This is the initial step that needs to be taken. Additionally, it is crucial for those held by Hamas to be released. Our belief is that a two-state solution is the most appropriate resolution. Establishing two separate states in the region is a strategic approach that we firmly support as the only viable solution. It has become evident that military action will not resolve this long-standing problem. The issue has persisted in the region for years, highlighting the necessity of a political resolution. We propose the formation of two states as the solution. The Kurdistan Region is not under threat; however, the recent activities of armed forces in Iraq, such as the occasional deployment of armed drones to Erbil and Ain al-Assad, we firmly believe that these actions will not benefit the Kurdistan Region, and it is imperative to take all necessary measures to prevent Iraq from being drawn into any conflicts. The situation in Iraq is unique, and it is crucial for Iraq to distance itself from conflicts and actively pursue a peaceful resolution to this issue.”

President Nechirvan Barzani addressed Channel 8’s question regarding the potential threats posed by the Nujaba forces of the Hashd al-Shaabi popular mobilization forces towards Israel, the security agreement between Iraq and Iran concerning the opposition forces of Iranian Kurdistan, and the Kurdistan Region’s involvement in that agreement. “Our stance remains unchanged. We are determined to prevent Iraq from being embroiled in these issues. Although we have not received any official statements from the Nujaba movement, we expect the prime minister, as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to fulfill his role. Our objective is to assist the Iraqi prime minister in averting any potential problems for the country. As previously mentioned, a comprehensive solution must be sought in the short, medium, and long term. Immediately a ceasefire should be declared, and humanitarian aid must be promptly delivered to Gaza. The current situation in Gaza is not right, and we believe that, following the assistance provided, a peaceful resolution should be achieved in the long run.”
“Turning to Iran, it is important to note that there is a security agreement between Iraq and Iran, which also includes the Kurdistan Region. We are fully committed to this agreement and firmly believe that Iraq and the Kurdistan Region should not be a source of instability or create difficulties for our neighboring countries. The Kurdistan Region will not serve as a safe haven for any armed group seeking to cause trouble in neighboring nations and then seek refuge within our borders. Fortunately, the Kurdish opposition forces in Iran have a comprehensive understanding of the situation in the Kurdistan Region and have been immensely supportive in this regard. We are resolute in our commitment to the agreement, and it must be faithfully implemented as originally agreed upon.”

The President addressed the assurance of safeguarding the lives of civilian refugees in Iranian Kurdistan camps. “As I mentioned, those [opposition] forces understand the situation well and have been helpful. We are in constant contact with the United Nations and have asked them to ensure that the camps are protected. If the UN is involved, then of course the camps must remain civilian-only, in accordance with global camp principles. The civilians will then have the choice to either remain safely in Kurdistan or relocate elsewhere. The decision will be entirely theirs to make.”


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