Kurdistan Regional Government condemns Brussels' attacks

Text of Statement by KRG Council of Ministers:

We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks in Brussels yesterday. We express our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, and wish the injured complete recovery.

Here in Iraqi Kurdistan, we directly face ISIS terrorism.  We understand well the pain of the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the people and Government of Belgium.

Such heinous crimes against innocent people demonstrate once again that terrorism can strike anywhere at anytime without warning. No people or place is invulnerable.

This is a message for all humanity, to the international community and the centers of power and decision-making, that we should not, and cannot, halt the pursuit and intensification of our efforts to combat terrorism.

Once again, we express our solidarity and sympathy with the Belgian people.

Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government
23 March 2016

 

 

 

 

Prime Minister Barzani meets Lebanese Minister of Tourism

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) - Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani yesterday received Lebanese Minister of Tourism  Michel Pharaon and his accompanying delegation.

The delegation visited the Kurdistan Region to attend the International Tourism Conference held last weekend in Erbil.

Referring to the tourism potential of the Kurdistan Region, Minister Pharaon explained the Lebanese tourism sector and noted those areas where Lebanon could help the Kurdistan Region with expertise.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed hope that Lebanon’s long and successful experience, as well as expertise, will help the Kurdistan Region’s tourism sector.

Mr. Pharaon expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Kurdistan Regional Government for welcoming the Lebanese community. 

The two sides also discussed the war against ISIS and its impact throughout the Region.

 

Nechirvan Barzani : Kurdistan Region has a strong potential for tourism development

The  text of the  speech of Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region in the opening ceremony of the International Tourism Conference in Erbil:


Ladies and gentlemen,
Dears Minister of Tourism of the Lebanese Republic and Minister of Culture of the Republic of Iraq,
Representatives of International, regional, and Iraqi tourism agencies and companies,

I welcome you all to this event; it’s our pleasure to host you today in the capital of the Kurdistan Region in an international conference of tourism. Participation of officials and representatives of 27 tourism companies across the world, especially at this particular time of The war against terrorism, and financial challenges, is not only a prestigious event for our tourism sector but also a show of solidarity and support and a repose for the Kurdistan Region.

 

 

I hope the presence of such a large number of international tourism companies in this conference will help us to revive tourism sector in Kurdistan Region in a way that it becomes another source of revenue for the region, a bridge with the world to open other doors, a tourist destination for international tourists visiting the Middle East.

With its natural beauty, breathtaking scenery, undiscovered mountains, ancient and historical sites, the Kurdistan Region has a great potential to become a major tourism destination in the wider region.

The welcoming attitude and warm hospitality of the people of Kurdistan Region is another important factor that could help develop tourism sector in our region. This welcoming attitude, which is one of the characteristics of the people of Kurdistan, gives a positive first impression to all foreign tourists at airports or border points upon their entry to our region. Hope to stay like that steadily.   

Dear guests,
The Kurdistan Regional Government has done its best to build tourism infrastructure, to secure the safety of tourists, and to attract international tourists to the Kurdistan Region. In order to further develop our tourism sector, the KRG has encouraged the private sector to invest in tourism projects and we will continue to do so. Since the establishment of the KRG Board of Investment in 2007, more than 6 billion USD have been invested in the tourism sector.

Despite of having the basic elements of a  tourism, it is unfortunate that due to our limited resources we have to give priority to the sectors that have direct impacts on the lives of our citizens. As a result, we have not been able to support tourism sector to the extent that we had planned. On the other hand, freezing of the KRG’s share of the federal budget ,the financial crises and war against terror challenges facing our region have had an adverse impact on all sectors including the tourism sector during the last two years. We are confident that once we overcome the current challenges, tourism sector will revive again and we will be able to further promote tourism in the Kurdistan Region.

When we look at the statistics between   2007 to 2016, we see great progress in our tourism sector. For instance, in 2007 we only had 105 hotels, while the number in 2016 has risen to 620 hotels. The number of restaurants for the same given years has increased from 129 to 764. Also during those years the number of tourists entering the Kurdistan Region increased from 377,000 to nearly three million. Most of the tourists come from the middle and south of Iraq, Iran and to a lesser extent from the regional and international countries.

The KRG has a comprehensive plan for the development of tourism sector. Our strategy is to focus on developing the sectors of agriculture, industry, and tourism to become the main source of our economy instead of oil and natural gas, with  the establishment of a solid infrastructure for those sectors , we would be able to reduce our dependency on the oil and gas sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Achieving a world-class tourism sector does not only require building five star hotels, restaurants and tourism projects but also a culture of tourism and exceptional services. In that regard, Kurdistan Region has a great potential as the people of the region enjoy tourism, which will make our job of promoting culture of tourism and attracting international tourists much easier, the social environment of Kurdistan Region for tourism and hosting foreign tourists is helpful and promising .

Even though, a much mature tourism culture is required ,the KRG and its relevant institutions should work seriously, in a scientific way, to further promote and consolidate culture of tourism in the Kurdistan Region. The local media can also play an active role in that regard. I hope that this subject will be discussed during the discussion of this conference to explore ways and means of advancing culture of tourism in our region.

I would like to seize this opportunity to encourage local and foreign investors to play an active role in reviving our tourism sector through investing in tourism projects. I urge them to take advantage of Kurdistan’s undiscovered mountains, plains, and rivers to build appropriate tourism project on this four season suitable land for tourism. The KRG is ready to fully support and facilitate the implementation of such kind of projects.

Tourism is an important sector for Kurdistan Region. I have instructed the KRG Ministry of Municipality, Board of Tourism and other relevant authorities to undertake necessary measures to further promote tourism so that it becomes a source of revenue for our region.

Dear guests,

Please allow me to salute the martyrs of Kurdistan who sacrificed their lives defending our land and freedom. I commend our brave peshmerga forces who are in the frontlines fighting the most brutal terrorist organization so that we can live in peace and continue building our nation. The resilience of our Peshmerga forces makes it possible for the people of Kurdistan Region to celebrate Newruz like every other year.

Once again I would like to welcome you all. I wish the conference success. I thank the Ministry of Municipality and Board of Tourism for organizing this important gathering. I wish the participants a productive conference and I hope their presence here today will pave the way for further collaboration in the future so that we will continue to work together to turn Kurdistan into a major tourist destination.

Thank you all

 

 

 

 

Prime Minister Barzani and Russian ambassador discuss the situation in Middle East and Kurdistan Region

Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) - On the sidelines of the annual Sulaimani Forum, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, yesterday received Ambassador Ilya Morgunov, Russian Federation ambassador to Iraq and his accompanying delegation, which included the Russian Consul General to the Kurdistan Region and a number of Russian officials.

The two sides discussed the latest developments in the war against terrorism in Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria and the possible repercussions of the war on the entire region.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the Russian Federation for the military aid provided very recently to the Kurdistan Region, and reiterated Kurdistan Region’s desire to develop its relations with the Russian Federation. He stressed that in order to eliminate the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS, the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga Forces continuously need the support of the international community.

The two sides also discussed the relations between Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government of Iraq, highlighting the outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad. In this regard, Prime Minister Barzani reiterated that the Kurdistan Region has still the desire to settle all the problems and differences through dialogue and mutual understanding.

Meantime, Prime Minister Barzani stressed that a new form of relations between Erbil and Baghdad should be found as all previous forms have failed.

On his side, the Russian ambassador expressed his satisfaction with his meeting with Prime Minister Barzani, reiterating his country's readiness to support the Kurdistan Region in the war against ISIS.

 

President Barzani Meets with U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon in Erbil‏

Presient Masoud Barzani welcomed the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the President of the World Bank, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, and President of the Islamic Development Bank. Mr Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani,  in Erbil today to discuss the latest developments concerning the ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS terrorists, the humanitarian situation of IDPs and Syrian refugees in Kurdistan, and the financial challenges faced by the KRG. 



The two sides also spoke of the Kurdistan Region's management of the affairs of the refugees from Syria and the IDPs from other parts of Iraq who have found in the Kurdistan region a safe haven. The Secretary General expressed his appreciation for the role of the Kurdistan Region for providing the necessary support and protection of the IDPs amd refugees.  He also lauded the bravery and sacrifices of the peshmerga forces in taking the fight to ISIS terrorists, and the leadership of President Barzani. 

Mr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, highlighted the steps taken by the World Bank to help the KRG and expressed his approval for the reform plans announced by the KRG to ease the financial crisis.

 

 

 

 

President Barzani Conveys His Greetings to Christians‏

President Masoud Barzani issued a statement today in which he wished the Christians of the Kurdistan Region, Iraq and the entire world a happy and prosperous Easter. The statement made reference to the fact that the Kurdistan Region takes enormous pride in its long history of peaceful co-existence between peoples of all religions. The statement concluded by wishing upon the Christian community here in the Kurdistan Region a happy Easter and prayed for a more peaceful world in the year to come.

According to Mehr News Agency, Nazem Dabbagh the representative of Kurdistan Regional Government, conversing with Avineh Press posed important points around the relations between Iran and Region as followed:

The reporter of Avineh Press pointing Mr. Dabbagh‘s recent visit with Barezani asked him about what message he was bearing for Kurdsitan Region from Iran, not directly indicating the content of the message he replied: that Region representative visited the president of the Region in Tehran was enough to be a message. Stating the positions of Iran concerning the insist on Kurdish parties’ unity and interrelation of Iran and the Region’s security, in the response to another question relating Kurdistan Region presidency said: Iran has insisted on that this is a domestic concern, while has on the consolidation of Iraq and Iraq Federal Law officially recognizing Kurds’ rights.

Dabbagh denied any relations and supports of Iran from Islamic Society of Kurdistan Region of Iraq and P.K.K and knew it untrue. He made it clear: unfortunately the concern is us ourselves, who aren't able to get united and extend it to other countries. About the matter of Kurdistan Region presidency he stated: Iran is neither of sides, in all meetings Iran insisted on the unity among Kurds. He went on: Iran, at the highest political levels, already tried to intercede with Kurds. He Said: General Soleimani’s trip to Kurdistan has taken for this.

In a response to a question relating reduction of Iran and Kurdistan Democrat Party’s relations levels Dabbagh said: let me state more clearly that Kurdistan Democratic Party has not distanced from Iran, so that would want to approach again. As far as I know it has a good relation with Iran.

 

The reporter asked Dabbagh about Iran’s position concerning Kurdistan Region’s tendency toward Sunni Block of the region and he answered: I am sure that Iran likes the Region to remain as the same as Federal Region in the frame of Iraq and likes the region to be the president of Iraq. This itself proves that Iran is not interested in that the Region tends to other directs in region. He kept on: Kurds should be much aware no to be digested in Sunni policy of region, it is obvious that if so, Iran will not react well. In the response to the last question around Kurdistan Region and Iran’s relations in the field of oil, Dabbagh said: Iran has already stated to support oil and gas relations of Kurdistan Region and prepared to export oil through Persian Gulf to the world, presently there is a delegation of Energy Ministry of the Region in Tehran to make this more practical. 

Somayyeh Khomarbaghi, the reporter of Mehr News Agency, in talk with Nazem Dabbagh the representative of Kurdistan Regional Government in Iran relating to the elections of the presidency of Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the discussion of federalism in Iraq asked some questions of which the most important responses of Mr. Dabbagh followed:

 

In a response to the first question real to the presidency of Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Mr. Dabbagh said: as of a yet it has not arrived at a conclusion, and it is obvious that it is a complicate concern. This requires an agreement, and now that the war ISIS and economic crisis and lack of political stability in Iraq affect the problems to be treated, it seems to be difficult. Concerning with the relations between Democrat party of Kurdistan and Iran, the representative of Kurdistan Region in Iran said: in general the relations between Iran and Democrat Party of Iraqi Kurdistan is completely normal and ongoing and if opinions exchange needed, this will happen through special communication channels. He continued: if according the constitution of Iraq they do not recognize other rights officially, Iraq absolutely will be led to an unobvious future and rapture. In these current conditions it is felt that there are some who are trying to interrupt the lines of nation and political forces. He mentioned the role of federalism to keep Iraq united and believed: federalism is the cause of Iraq unity.

President Barzani Welcomes UK Foreign Secretary Hammond

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani welcomed UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in his office in Salahaddin today. They met to discuss the upcoming fight to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists, UK’s support to the KRG, and Erbil-Baghdad relations.

President Barzani thanked the UK Foreign Secretary for his visit, and described it as a further sign of UK’s commitment to support the KRG and its people. 

On the fight to retake Mosul, the President said that the peshmerga will play an important role in liberating Mosul, but stressed that before the Mosul operation, all sides must reach agreement on how to administer and run the city after liberation. He added that there is now joint coordination between the peshmerga forces, the Iraqi army, and the international coalition on preparation for the Mosul operation. 

Foreign Secretary Hammond admired the military successes of the peshmerga forces against ISIS, and said the UK would continue to train and supply the peshmerga forces. 

He added that the international community is prepared to help the KRG in meeting the economic challenges it faces, including support in undertaking economic reforms by the KRG. 

“I can assure you Mr. President that we will work with you and support you as you meet that challenge [economic crisis], just as we have done as you have risen to meet the challenge of fighting Daesh,” said Philip Hammond.

President Barzani Meets President Obama's Envoy for Coalition to Counter ISIS

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani today met with a senior US delegation that included Brett McGurk, US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Stuart Jones, US Ambassador to Iraq, and US military officials.

Mr McGurk updated the President on the steps that the US is considering to further help the peshmerga forces with military supplies and training. They also discussed preparations for the recapturing of Mosul from ISIS by the Iraqi army, the peshmerga forces, and the international coalition. Both sides stressed the need for a prior political agreement between the KRG and Baghdad on the running of Mosul after its liberation.

They also talked about the situation in Syria, including the idea of a federal arrangement for country in the future, and the dangers of the escalation of violence between Turkey and the PKK. 


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