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Prime Minister Barzani meets Italy’s new Consul General to Erbil

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, received Ms. Serena Moroni, Italian new Consul General to Erbil.

Consul General Serena Moroni expressed her country’s desire to have solid relations with the Kurdistan Region in various fields. She also stressed that her country will continue its military and humanitarian support to the Kurdistan Region.

Prime Minister Barzani congratulated Ms. Moroni on her new position, assuring her of his government’s full support during her mission in the Kurdistan Region.

Highlighting the opportunities for investment in various sectors, Prime Minister Barzani expressed his government’s support for Italian companies, desiring to invest in the Kurdistan Region.

The two sides also discussed the latest developments in the battle to liberate the City of Mosul from ISIS terrorists, as well as regional political issues.

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KRG Foreign Minister meets Catalan Director of Foreign Relations

Barcelona, Spain (dfr.gov.krd)– Minister Falah Mustafa met with Ms. Marina Falco, Director of Foreign Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Catalan Government  to discuss establishing bilateral relation.

During the meeting Minister Mustafa gave an overview of the history of the Kurdistan Region, as well as the financial, humanitarian and security challenges facing the KRG. The Minister also highlighted KRG’s views on post ISIS Iraq and Kurdistan’s decision to conduct a referendum on independence.

Both sides exchanged views on areas of potential cooperation between Catalonia and Kurdistan, and expressed their interest in building a long-term partnership in areas of tourism, sport, agriculture, women empowerment, and capacity building programs.

Ms. Falco emphasized that the Catalan government recognizes the important role played by the KRG in restoring regional stability and the war on ISIS. She expressed her government’s willingness to cooperate with KRG in different fields.

Both sides agreed to prepare a memorandum of understanding as a stepping stone in building and broadening bilateral cooperation.

The KRG Representative to Spain Mr. Daban Shadala also attended the meeting.

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Kurdistan Regional Government to reform its armed forces with the support of International Coalition

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – As part of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s continuing reforms, the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs will implement significant reform measures with assistance from a joint team of military experts from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Prime Minister Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, acting Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Karim Sinjari, and KRG military officials met with an international coalition joint team to discuss a framework for reform consisting of 35 critical points.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed his gratitude for the continuing support of the coalition forces. He noted that after 2003 the Kurdistan Region focused primarily on reconstruction, not on developing military forces. Well-equipped and trained Iraqi federal army was expected to defend the country against any threat. The rise of ISIS, however, caused a radical change toward the need to commence the formation of KRG professional armed forces.

He reiterated that the proposed reforms of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs are welcomed and will be discussed by the Council of Ministers for approval. Then, the reform package will be submitted to the President of the Kurdistan Region for review and issuing of necessary orders.

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Prime Minister Barzani invites private sector to contribute to tourism development

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) - Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani called on the private sector, both foreign and domestic, to come to Kurdistan and take advantage of the KRG’s provisions and programs for tourism-related projects.

He stressed that the Kurdistan Region has all the attributes to become a successful destination for tourists.

Prime Minster Barzani made the statements during a speech at the opening ceremony of the Middle East Tourism Expo, METEX 2017, held in the capital Erbil.

He said, “We in Kurdistan are moving towards a new era, an era of growth and development in tourism, agriculture, and industry. This is part of our aim to diversify our economy and reduce our dependency on the oil and gas sector.”

Following is the text of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.

Good morning, I would like to welcome you all to the “Middle East Tourism Expo”.

I would also like to warmly welcome the distinguished ambassadors and representatives of countries to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. I also warmly welcome all the companies, agencies, hotels, tourist organizations, and institutions from 14 countries who are attending this year’s METEX along with their counterparts from Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

I would like also to congratulate the organizers, the managers of the Expo, and wish them all success.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Holding such an exhibition under normal circumstances would be an ordinary event. Organising this event during the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, however, is extraordinary. It will surely help to reinvigorate confidence in Kurdistan’s tourism market.

This event also demonstrates the earnest steps the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been taking to improve the situation. We expect good results from these steps. Also, the understanding, responsibility, and the patience of our people in the current difficult situation are greatly appreciated. It is important and helpful in producing positive results.

The KRG sees tourism as a main source for generating revenue, creating jobs, developing the country, enriching the culture, and enhancing relationships. The KRG has been working on all of tourism’s positive aspects.

The KRG has comprehensive plans for tourism development. If it hadn’t been for the last difficult three years, Kurdistan tourism would have shown great improvement by now, and it would have contributed significantly to national revenue.

The Kurdistan Region has all the qualities and attributes to become a successful destination for tourists. Kurdistan’s culture of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and hospitality, go hand in hand with Kurdistan’s beautiful environment and nature. Few countries are fortunate enough to have such tourism assets.

We have good opportunity to advance tourism and to establish the Kurdistan Region as a viable and desirable destination for attracting domestic and foreign tourists.

Because of the current crisis, however, we could not take full advantage of our tourism potential. I reassure you we shall not reduce efforts to advance and expand tourism in the Kurdistan Region. We shall do whatever is within our power to advance and expand the growth of tourism. We have already taken steps in this regard.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Towards our aim, last year in March we conducted a tourism conference. That conference and exhibition helped to improve tourism in specific areas. The conference highlighted the increase of tourists from seven hundred and eighty-two thousand in 2015 to one million and six hundred thousand in 2016. We hope this year’s activities will lead to further increase.

The private sector is crucial to tourism development. It is the main channel used by countries, successful in tourism. The private sector can build and operate facilities, and create a strong foundation for tourism. The private sector can also undertake large projects and add value to Kurdistan tourism. I wish to emphasize again that the KRG supports the private sector and aims to attract and facilitate private investment in tourism.

I invite investors and the private sector, both foreign and domestic, to come to Kurdistan and take advantage of the KRG’s provisions and programs for tourism-related projects.

We in Kurdistan are moving towards a new era, an era of growth and development in tourism, agriculture, and industry. This is part of our aim to diversify our economy and reduce our dependency on the oil and gas sector.

Dear attendants,

We consider events such as this important and we support programs and plans that pave the way for improving tourism in Kurdistan. I encourage our relevant government organizations to apply themselves toward effectively implementing programs and plans, to use them as opportunities to build tourism relations with other countries to learn from their successful experiences, and to consider such experiences in planning activities for Kurdistan.

I also encourage our relevant government organizations to support participating companies and organizations in this Expo and to encourage them to open representative offices in the Kurdistan Region.

On this occasion, I kindly request all who work in tourism-related institutions and organizations at airports and checkpoints, in general, and those who work at checkpoints between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, in particular, to act in a hospitable and professional manner when they receive and deal with Iraqi tourists and to provide every possible support and facilitation to them.

Those who choose to come to the Kurdistan Region are visiting their own country and should never feel that they are visiting another country. Their visits support our tourism market to revive and thrive, and strengthen socialization and social relationships.

The people of Kurdistan are renowned for our hospitality. Our hospitality is what the people of Kurdistan are renowned for. It resonates when visitors are welcomed and treated in the best way possible. In case of any issues, I urge and welcome Iraqi tourism companies, organizations, and agencies to inform their counterparts and partners in the Kurdistan Region.

Dear attendants,

It is true that for the past three years, the people of Kurdistan have faced a difficult time and endured a great deal of suffering. But, due to the bravery of our Peshmerga, other security forces, and volunteers, and because of their love for their country and the understanding of the people of Kurdistan, we, together, have passed through those very negative times.

Now, we look forward to a brighter future, to start another chapter of building and constructing and to further develop our country. Tourism will be one of the sectors we will strongly focus. We will do our best to allocate much effort and support to this sector.

I congratulate the organizers of this exposition, those who assisted them, the Board of Tourism, the Ministry of Municipalities & Tourism, and the companies – Dream, KTS, Fly Miran, Holidays, Bosphor Line, and Erbil’s branch of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants.

I pay tribute to the martyrs of Kurdistan. It is because of their sacrifices that Kurdistan is safe and its civilians are aiming for a brighter and better future. I salute our heroic Peshmergas, security forces, and volunteers of Kurdistan, who worked diligently day and night and put their lives on the line in order to protect Kurdistan. I send my gratitude to all our people, as they have withstood much hardship for the sake of a better Kurdistan in the future. We are certain that a better future is ahead for us all.

Thank you