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President Nechirvan Barzani meets with leaders of political parties

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, April 8, 2021

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani met with the leaders of political parties of the Kurdistan Region on Thursday.

At the meeting, attended by the Kurdistan Region Vice Presidents, the developments in Iraq and the greater region, the foreign and diplomatic relations of the Kurdistan Region and the upcoming Iraqi elections were discussed.

President Nechirvan Barzani’s recent visit to France, the Kurdistan Region’s role and position in regards to the new political conditions and the relations between Erbil and Baghdad were highlighted. Discussions also focused on the Iraq-US strategic dialogue including the Kurdistan Region’s participation in the ongoing talks, the developments in the Region and the relations among communities and the political parties.

The meeting reaffirmed the importance of unity and consensus among political parties in order to reach lasting solutions to the differences, and in this regard, the Kurdistan Region Presidency was lauded for its efforts to bring the political parties together.

The passage of the Iraqi Budget Bill was highlighted as a positive step towards improving the relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government. It was underlined that the implementation of the Budget Bill is essential for the economic recovery in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region with its positive impact on the resolution of the problems between Baghdad and Erbil on the basis of the constitution and within the framework of the federal system.

It was stressed that the current situation in the Kurdistan Region requires unity, national responsibility, cooperation and consensus in order to secure the constitutional rights of the people of Kurdistan Region and preserve their hard won achievements. The importance of the reform process, collective efforts to improve the livelihood of citizens and preserve their freedoms including freedom of expression, and ways to continue joint meetings among all political parties were affirmed.

President Nechirvan Barzani thanked the political parties for accepting his invitation to the meeting and reiterated that the only way to overcome the crises and differences is through collective efforts and unity which also ensures the rights and achievements and preserves the constitutional and federal entity of the Kurdistan Region. The President reaffirmed that the Kurdistan Region Presidency will continue to be a unifying factor for all.

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President Nechirvan Barzani’s statement on the 30th anniversary of the UNSCR 688

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, April 5, 2021

Today, we mark the 30th anniversary of an important day in the history of the people of Kurdistan. Thirty years ago, on this day, April 5, 1991, the United Nations’ Security Council issued the Resolution 688. With this resolution, the No-Fly Zone was established as a safe haven to protect large parts of Kurdistan Region and prevent further attacks from the former Iraqi regime against the people of Kurdistan.

This decision was a historic turning point for Kurdistan following the large-scale exodus of people fleeing to the mountains and then to the neighboring Iran and Turkey. The exodus was a testament of defiance from the people of Kurdistan against oppression committed by the former Iraqi regime. The UN Resolution established peace and led to the protection of the people of Kurdistan. It paved the way for the 1992 elections and the establishment of the parliament, government and the Kurdistan Region.

It was a turning point for the idea of Humanitarian Intervention and it started a new chapter in the history of the Kurdistan Region. The Resolution created new opportunities for the Kurdistan to merge as a success story in the wider region, promoting peace, coexistence and democracy.

Undoubtedly, the Kurdistan Region could have become a better model for the promotion of democracy in the past 30 years. There have been setbacks and great challenges. But at the same time, many of the setbacks that prevented the Kurdistan Region’s further development, were not of its own making. It is therefore imperative now, more than ever, that dialogue and tolerance replace disputes and hostilities, and that with the support of the internatinal communities, the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government reach a lasting agreement for a more promising future for all parties.

On this day, we appreciate and salute the international community, which made the right decision and issued the UN Resolution. The people and leadership of Kurdistan have proved that they will contribute to peace and prosperity if given the opportunity. We urge the international community to support us to take further steps towards a better future, peace and stability for Iraq, the greater region and the world. We can together preserve and promote universal values and confront terror and extremism.

We extend our gratitude to Iran and Turkey for hosting the refugees from Kurdistan. We thank all nations that took part in the issuing of the Resolution 688, which led to the establishment of a safe haven for the people of Kurdistan. We thank the United Nations and the Non-governmental organizations. We appreciate the public opinion and people across the world who encouraged their governments to protect the people of Kurdistan. We will always remember your support and ask for your further support and partnership.

We thank the media outlets, journalists and photographers who courageously played a major role in conveying the sufferings of the people of Kurdistan at the time of the exodus, which led to the humanitarian support for the people of Kurdistan by the international community. We thank the Kurdistani community, artists and organizations in the Diaspora who relentlessly conveyed the plight of the people of Kurdistan. We salute and value the support from all.

Nechirvan Barzani
The President of the Kurdistan Region

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Prime Minister Barzani convenes Council of Ministers

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today convened the Council of Ministers.

The Prime Minister congratulated Kurdistan on the occasion of National Clothing Day, which the citizens of the Kurdistan Region observe on March 10 to honor their traditional clothes and celebrate their heritage.

The Prime Minister also discussed Pope Francis’ visit to the Kurdistan Region, which he noted was an important and historical event that confirmed the Kurdistan Region is a beacon of peaceful coexistence in the region. He also thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government’s organizers and responsible agencies, particularly the security forces, for successfully managing a safe and welcoming visit.

Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Pishtiwan Sadiq, and Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Safeen Dizayee, presented a report on the Pope’s visit to the Kurdistan Region, to document and highlight its importance.

Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Aram Muhammad Qadir, also presented the latest draft of the project to grant permission to public service employees to take leaves of absence to study in the Kurdistan Region or abroad. After a number of exchanges and amendments, the project was approved.

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Pope Francis’s visit to the Kurdistan Region

The Relationship between the Kurdistan Region and the Vatican

After the war for freedom in Iraq ended, a war which was a period of great terror and violence in the country’s history, the Kurdistan Region flourished as a peaceful and stable area where not only Iraqi Christians, but many others from all walks of life, came to for protection and acceptance. The first official and publicized meeting between senior Kurdistan Region officials and the Vatican was in 2005, when President Masoud Barzani visited the Vatican and was greeted by Pope John Paul II. On February 24, 2011, Pope Benedict welcomed President Masoud Barzani on another visit.

Pope Francis had his first meeting with President Masoud Barzani on March 13, 2013, and met a second time at the Vatican on May 30, 2014. The meeting coincided with the sudden influx of refugees to the Kurdistan Region, notably from the Nineveh province. Rather than focus on bilateral relations, Pope Francis and President Masoud Barzani took the opportunity to discuss the plight of Iraqi IDPs and Syrian refugees and jointly called for the world to help.

During that visit, thousands of Christians from the Nineveh province and other areas who had fallen under ISIS control were fleeing toward the Kurdistan Region. It was then that the relationship between the Vatican and the Kurdistan Region deepened, and officials from both sides began working closely together, culminating in a decision for Pope Francis to visit the Kurdistan Region.

On March 5, 2016, Vatican Ambassador to Iraq, Alberto Martin Ortega, thanked the people and the government of the Kurdistan Region for their hospitality in welcoming such a large number of refugees, who had to abandon their homes for safety.

At the time, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Pope Francis on March 2, 2015, to discuss steps the Kurdistan Regional Government was taking to ensure a peaceful life for refugees and IDPs. He spoke of the situation on the ground and how hundreds of thousands of innocent people were forced to leave their homes due to ISIS and threat of terrorism, and found refuge in the Kurdistan Region.

Former Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Pope Francis then met on January 12, 2018 in Vatican City, where they discussed ties between the Kurdistan Region and the Vatican, as well as the situation for Christians in Iraq.

In December 2018, Cardinal Petro Parolin, the Vatican’s Prime Minister, visited Erbil and met with senior officials in the Kurdistan Region. In an interview with Masrour Barzani on December 27, 2018, Parolin praised the role of the Kurdistan Region in providing for refugees to the greatest ability.

Pope Francis’ Visit to the Kurdistan Region

Current Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani, met with the Vatican’s Council of Justice on February 19, 2020 and presented Pope Francis a painting depicting the ethnic, religious, and cultural fabric of coexistence in the Kurdistan Region.

The Prime Minister met with Cardinal Petro Parolin, as the Kurdistan Regional Government announced its commitment to religious coexistence and called for discussions between religious representatives to foster a greater culture of acceptance, reconciliation, and harmony between the people.

Cardinal Parolin also expressed the Vatican’s support for the Kurdistan Region. He praised the people of Kurdistan’s role in the fight against terrorism and in helping protect the achievements of the Kurdistan Region. He recognised the humanitarian role the Kurdistan Regional Government played, and how it continues to promote peaceful coexistence and welcome people of all different religions and cultures, setting an example for the respect of all peoples.

 

Welcoming Ceremony for the Pope

Pope Francis will travel to the Kurdistan Region on March 7, 2021, and will meet with senior officials in the Kurdistan Region as well as visit areas where residents found refuge from terrorism and sectarianism in Iraq.

  • The reception ceremony will be held at Erbil International Airport.
  • On the same day, Pope Francis will visit Mosul and Qaraqosh.
  • In the courtyard of Bay’aa in Mosul, Pope Francis will lead a prayer for the victims of war.
  • At the Great Church of Al-Tarah in Qaraqosh, Pope Francis will lead mass.
  • On the evening of the same day, Pope Francis will lead a prayer at the Franso Hariri stadium in Erbil.

Pluralism and Diversity Culture

The Kurdistan Region has been a beacon of pluralism and diversity in the region, and with the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 1992, those principles were adopted by the official institutions of the region.

The Kurdistan Region celebrates the diversity of its people, and has always welcomed those who have lost their homes due to violence, political and religious persecution, and were looking to start a new life somewhere safe.

“You are the representative of peace, forgiveness and coexistence, and the role you play in this field is our pride,” Pope Benedict had told President Masoud Barzani in 2011. It was the Kurdistan Region’s welcoming nature which led the Vatican to issue this statement.

Pope Francis, in an interview with the Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on February 19, 2020, praised the role of the Kurdistan Region in confronting terrorism and in welcoming Christians, who have faced threats throughout Iraq and found safety in the Kurdistan Region.

The horrible attacks in June 2014 caused many Christians and Yezidis in Nineveh to flee to the Kurdistan Region, notably Erbil and Duhok. At that time, the Kurdistan Region was already hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria (Western Kurdistan). The Kurdistan Region continues to this day to serve and protect the hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs, regardless of their religious, national, and ethnic backgrounds.

The Kurdistan Region will continue to protect its land and its people, which includes Christians, Yezidis, and all minorities it has welcomed into its arms. On December 27, 2018, during his meeting with Cardinal Petro Barolin, Masrour Barzani recalled that when a group of ISIS members attacked the Kurdistan Region, and he had told his fellow Christians “We stand united, we have a common goal, so we live together and die together. The international community should protect Christians and allow them to stay on their own land, not force them to leave their homes to find safety.”

The people of Kurdistan have sacrificed a lot and understand the costs and efforts that come in the struggle to achieve peace and guarantee freedom for all those in the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Region continues to look toward leaders around the world, political and religious, for their support to celebrate and promote the Kurdistan Region’s culture of tolerance, and help the Kurdistan Region strengthen ties with the world, especially with the Vatican.

The Kurdistan Region will continue to protect its Christian minority, which hold five parliamentary seats in the region’s Parliament, whose children can study in their own language and are provided special accommodations at school, which holds special status within the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, and who contribute meaningfully to the political process, holding seats in the Presidencies, Parliament, and the Council of Ministers and helping shape the history of the Kurdistan Region.

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PM Masrour Barzani announces the delivery of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine

I am pleased to confirm that we have received an early batch of 5,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. This is an important milestone in our fight against COVID-19 and our ongoing efforts to protect our brave frontline workers. I thank the People’s Republic of China for their generous donation.

Once they have been inspected by our medical teams, and the delivery plan approved, the vaccines will be distributed to designated health centers of all Kurdistani provinces to be administered to frontline healthcare staff.

The KRG has been working hard to ensure the delivery of vaccines. In parallel to ensuring Kurdistan receives its share from the federal government, we are also negotiating directly with leading pharmaceutical companies to acquire more doses for our region. This is something I am personally determined to do and regularly following to ensure every Kurdistani has access to the vaccines as soon as possible.

This will not be an easy task. We must vaccinate over 6 million citizens. That’s why we are designing a comprehensive vaccination program; with frontline health workers, security forces, the elderly and those at risk prioritized to receive the first doses. We will then mobilize to vaccinate the general population in stages by age, which will, in time, allow us to return to our lives and livelihoods, and allow our hard-hit economy to recover.

I am confident that we are beginning to turn the corner. But the KRG cannot do this alone – everyone must play their part for the good of the general public. That starts with embracing the recent measures; sticking to the guidelines will save lives.

Masrour Barzani

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani convenes Council of Ministers

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today headed a meeting of the Council of Ministers to discuss recent developments with Iraq and ongoing efforts by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, heading the delegation leading negotiations with Baghdad, updated the cabinet on the latest progress in talks with the federal government regarding the 2021 federal budget and the Kurdistan Region’s financial entitlements. He also affirmed the delegation will continue pursuing discussions to find a sustainable solution based on the constitution.

As part of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s agenda, the Minister of Finance and Economy, Awat Janab, and the Minister of Planning, Dara Rashid, discussed preparations for the Kurdistan Region’s 2021 budget bill, noting that collected data from most of ministries will help draft a transparent and realistic budget.

During the meeting, Minister Rashid also presented a draft for the Kurdistan Region’s private-public partnership initiative, which was approved following deliberation among the cabinet. The Council also approved a draft law presented by Electricity Minister Kamal Mohammed Salih.

On the subject of the government’s response to the pandemic, Health Minister Saman Barzinji presented a report on the new strand of coronavirus arriving to the Kurdistan Region and the ministry’s plans to curb the spread.

Minister Education Alan Hama Saeed also assured the school year would continue, with strict health measures being taken into account to protect the safety and lives of students, teachers, and school staff.

The Council of Ministers thanked the Ministry of Health and other relevant ministries for their dedication to the health and safety of the people, and urged ministries and government offices to continue following official health guidelines, as well as asked citizens to cooperate with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s measures and guidelines to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus variant.

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PM Masrour Barzani’s phone call with US Secretary of State about Erbil attack

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani spoke by phone today with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about yesterday’s rocket attack in Erbil.

During the call, both sides expressed sympathy for the victims. Prime Minister Barzani called it a cowardly attack and urged Secretary Blinken to support the KRG and the federal government in the joint investigation to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators behind it. They agreed to stay in close contact in that regard.

They also discussed other recent security developments in Iraq.

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Deputy Prime Minister meets with Iraqi Parliament Deputy Speakers

Baghdad, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government and head of the negotiating delegation, Qubad Talabani, today met with First Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Hassan Al-Kaabi, and Second Deputy Speaker, Dr. Bashir Hadad.

Accompanied by the heads of both the PUK and KDP parliamentary blocs, Alla Talabani and Vian Sabri, the Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the importance of ongoing talks with Baghdad and the need to strengthen cooperation between the two governments as they work to reach a mutually-beneficial agreement.

The Deputy Speaker, Hassan al-Kaabi, recognized the Kurdistan Regional Government efforts in presenting to the Iraqi Parliament all the necessary and relevant information regarding the region’s budget, revenues and expenditures, which are part of negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad regarding the 2021 federal budget bill

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets with foreign representatives in Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today met with the consuls, foreign heads of mission, representatives, and diplomats based in the Kurdistan Region to discuss the situation in Iraq, the progress of the ninth cabinet’s reform plan, and relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government.

The Prime Minister highlighted the Kurdistan Region’s ongoing efforts to have a positive working relationship with the Federal Government and to resolve fundamental issues on the basis of the constitution. The Prime Minister underscored Erbil has fulfilled all its commitments toward Baghdad to open the path to an agreement that is in the interest of all Iraqi citizens. He stressed that it is necessary the issue of public salaries should neither be politicized nor used as a means of coercion against the Kurdistan Region by harming public service employees.

The Prime Minister also provided an update of the government’s efforts to diversifying the Kurdistan Region’s economy, expanding its sources of income, reducing expenditures, reorganizing its tax system, and facilitating processes for foreign and local investors. He noted the government continues to put forward every effort to pay the salaries of the Kurdistan Region’s employees despite current financial challenges.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the Kurdistan Region remains committed to playing a stabilising role in the region and is prepared to develop strong relations with neighboring countries and the international community. He also noted the importance of continuing cooperation and collaboration with the Kurdistan Region to counter the ongoing threat of terrorism.

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Council of Ministers convenes on 2021 Kurdistan Region budget bill

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss ongoing efforts to prepare the Kurdistan Region’s budget bill for the 2021 fiscal year.

Minister of Finance and Economy, Awat Sheik Janab, presented a report on the current financial situation in the Kurdistan Region, and briefed Cabinet members on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s 2021 budget draft.

Cabinet members discussed potential avenues to restructure government spending and revenue streams, reduce expenditures, and limit the estimated deficit this year. The Prime Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to implementing its reform agenda in an effort to increase public revenues.

Minister of Planning, Dara Rashid, jointly reported on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s investment budget for major service projects within the framework of the 2021 budget.

Following an exchange of views, the Council of Ministers approved a timeline for the 2021 budget bill. The Supreme Economic Council will meet next week to approve the first draft of the bill.

The Cabinet also tasked the Ministries of Interior and Peshmerga with forming a joint task force to prevent irregularities and smuggling at all border crossings in the Kurdistan Region.

Cabinet members stressed the importance of enforcing previous decisions which aimed to restructure service contracts for border crossing, in line with public interests and revenues.

In the meeting, the Prime Minister congratulated Kamal Atrushi on winning the confidence of the Kurdistani Parliament for his new role as Minister of Natural Resources, and wished him success in this post.