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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.

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani statement ushering in the New Year

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani issued a statement today to express his best wishes on New Year’s Eve to the people of the Kurdistan Region, Peshmerga Forces, and the families of martyrs in particular.

In his statement, the Prime Minister said:

“The Kurdistan Region, like the rest of the world, endured a very difficult year facing unprecedented challenges. Together, we weathered the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent economic effects of a global pandemic. We were also burdened by the failure of federal authorities in Baghdad to send the Kurdistan Region its financial entitlements, as required by law. These factors inevitably sparked a deep financial crisis, impacting the lives of our fellow citizens in the Kurdistan Region. As we reflect on the past year, however, we also want to note our successes. We have now reached an agreement with the Iraqi Government on the draft 2021 budget bill. It is our hope that this agreement will be honored as a key step to ensuring the prosperity and stability of the country in the new year. I call on all Iraqi political parties to prevent the rights and financial entitlements of the people of Kurdistan from being used as a tool to exert political pressure against our people, who have suffered tremendously this year from their rights having been violated. I reiterate the Kurdistan Region and its government’s commitment to defending its constitutional rights.

“The Kurdistani people remain committed to the national cause, and have paid the ultimate price to defend it. The constitutional status of the Kurdistan Region is the product of our enduring struggle, for which hundreds of thousands of Peshmerga fighters sacrificed their lives. It is all of our duty to protect our constitutional status; For the dignity and pride of the people of Kurdistan depend on the strength of our national identity and respect of our constitutional rights.

“I also call on all political parties and people of Kurdistan to set aside their differences and disputes to protect the Kurdistan Region’s federal status, its territory, and its achievements. I call on all of you to unite in confronting threats and protecting our constitutional rights. I trust that, with a united and undivided front, we shall overcome all crises and challenges ahead of us.

“On this occasion, I also want to reaffirm our commitment to the implementation of the government’s reform agenda and improving the living conditions of the people of the Kurdistan Region. I reiterate our commitment to uphold the rule of law and social justice, and to protect the peace and stability of our great nation.

“We look to the future with optimism, and hope the Kurdistan Region enters a new phase of development and progress in the new year, rewarding all of you for your sacrifices this past year. I wish everyone a happy new year and may Kurdistan remain safe and strong.”

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President Nechirvan Barzani receives U.S. delegation

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, December 9, 2020

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Mr. David Schenker, and his accompanying delegation including US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Mr. David Copley; the US Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Mathew Toller; and the US Consul-General in Erbil, Mr. Rob Waller.

Discussions covered political and security developments in Iraq, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the economic situation in the country. Topics included the resurgence of terrorism – notably ISIS, Erbil-Baghdad relations, Kurdistan Region and Iraq relations with the U.S. and neighboring countries, condition of displaced people, and the recent public demonstrations in the Region.

Mr. Schenker reaffirmed US commitment to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. He expressed US support for Erbil-Baghdad negotiations to resolve issues and effectively implement agreements. He also reaffirmed continued US support to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in confronting terrorism including ISIS.

Also discussed were reform efforts and diversification of the economy. Closer attention to agriculture, manufacturing, foreign investment, and job creation was emphasized. The delegation indicated that observable progress on these topics would support the US private sector to invest in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

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Council of Ministers convenes to discuss relations with Baghdad

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the latest developments with the Federal Government over ongoing disputes.

Joined by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, the Prime Minister affirmed the Kurdistan Regional Government remains committed to finding a peaceful resolution within the framework of the constitution to outstanding problems with Baghdad, and will continue to defend the Kurdistan Region’s constitutional rights and financial entitlements. He also stated that any delays in providing the Kurdistan’s fair share of the federal budget constitutes a violation of the rights of the people of the Kurdistan Region.

The Cabinet agreed to send an official request to the Federal Government for its budget shares for the months of May, June, July, and October of this year, which are currently still pending.

The Council of Ministers also called on the United Nations and the international community to assist in resolving disputes with Baghdad, and thanked United Nations Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who, in her recent address to the Security Council, urged the Iraqi government to separate the fulfillment of its financial obligations to the Kurdistan Region’s employees from political disputes.

In addition, the Cabinet unanimously approved the draft bill securing the rights and privileges of the families of martyrs and Anfal.

Minister of Transport and Communication Ano Jawhar raised issues related to land administration the Christian community faces in some areas of the Kurdistan Region. To address these concerns, the Council of Ministers formed a committee to follow up on questions related to the protection of ethnic, religious, and minority rights.

The Cabinet also reiterated the importance of decentralising decision-making capacities and providing local governments with greater independence on executive matters.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Prime Minister reiterated the Kurdistan Regional Government’s commitment to continue protecting women’s rights and promoting gender equality in the Kurdistan Region. He also extended his deepest condolences once more to the family of the late Governor of Erbil, Dr. Firsat Sofi, as well as of all those who have experienced great loss to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to visit Europe

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRG) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Monday headed to Europe to meet with senior European officials to discuss the benefits of increased trade with the Kurdistan Region and to strengthen diplomatic ties.

The Prime Minister will lead a government delegation visiting several European countries as part of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s roadmap to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment.

Prime Minister Barzani will meet with European officials and business leaders to explore opportunities and discuss trade issues of mutual interest.

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani convenes council of Ministers to address growing challenges related to the pandemic

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Wednesday chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the Kurdistan Regional Government’s response to a surge in coronavirus cases and the impacts of the pandemic on the regional economy.

As the Kurdistan Regional Government conducts a review of public service delivery, Prime Minister Barzani called on all departments to lead by example and follow stricter public health guidelines, urging the public to assist in preventing the spread of the virus.

To address growing economic challenges amid a global pandemic, the Council of Ministers reaffirmed its commitment to diversifying the Kurdistan Region’s economy and developing robust infrastructure systems to attract more foreign investments. This includes efforts spearheaded by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani to modernize the Kurdistan Region’s bureaucracy and reduce red tape.

The Council of Ministers also recognised the existing challenges wheat producers are currently facing as outlined by the Minister of Trade and Industry. The Prime Minister and cabinet members agreed to task relevant departments with assisting wheat producers in overcoming trade barriers with the Federal Government of Iraq.

The Council of Ministers reiterated its support for the agriculture sector, and highlighted the important role the private sector plays in developing the Kurdistan Region’s self-sufficiency.

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Meeting of Kurdistan Region Presidencies and Iraq’s President

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Kurdistan Region’s three Presidencies and Iraq’s President held a meeting at the office of the Kurdistan Region President in Erbil on Monday.

The meeting covered the latest developments in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and addressed the ongoing economic, security and health-related hardships that have gripped Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. The meeting reiterated the support of the Kurdistan Region for the steps taken by the Federal Government and its relevant institutions to preserve security and stability in the country; particularly providing secure and stable conditions for diplomatic missions and embassies working in Iraq.

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President Nechirvan Barzani receives France’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 27, 2020

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly and her accompanying delegation in Erbil on Thursday.

The latest developments in Iraq, ways to confront the resurgence of terror activities in the country, including ISIS movements, were discussed at the meeting. Both sides focused on the need for the international coalition’s continued support to confront ISIS and the ongoing coordination and cooperation between the Kurdistan Peshmerga Forces and the Iraqi army in confronting and eradicating terrorism.

President Nechirvan Barzani expressed gratitude for the effective role that France played in defeating ISIS and highlighted the role of the French forces in the Kurdistan Region, particularly in areas of training and capacity-building of the Peshmerga forces in addition to cooperation in areas of security and intelligence in the fight against terrorism. The President also expressed appreciation to France for all its political and humanitarian support to the Kurdistan Region; especially the assistance it extended to the refugees and the displaced people hosted by the Kurdistan Region.

On her part, the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly conveyed the appreciation and gratitude of the government of France for the leading role of the Kurdistan Region and its Peshmerga Forces in defeating ISIS, hosting refugees and displaced people and preserving and protecting ethnic and religious communities in Kurdistan Region. Minister Parly reiterated her country’s continued support to the Kurdistan Region.

At the meeting, which was also attended by the Kurdistan Region Vice Presidents, France’s Ambassador to Iraq and a number of diplomats and advisors, both sides discussed Erbil-Baghdad relations, the ongoing negotiations aimed at finding solutions to the pending issues between both sides, Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts on Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and ways for France to offer assistance.

Talks also covered bilateral relations between France and the Kurdistan Region, the current situation in Iraq and the importance of power-sharing among all parties in the country’s political process. The President and the Minister of the Armed Forces also talked about the ongoing Iraq-US strategic dialogue and the participation of the Kurdistan Region in the dialogue, the Kurdistan Region’s relations with the neighboring countries, the latest developments in the wider region, the importance of cooperation and joint effort in preserving stability and peace in the Middle East and other issue of bilateral interest.

Following their meeting, President Nechirvan Barzani and Minister Florence Parly held a joint press conference:

Commenting on their meeting, President Nechirvan Barzani said: “We are pleased to welcome the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly. Her visit comes at a crucial time; as Iraq and the Kurdistan Region still need the support of the international coalition in the fight against ISIS, as well as political and economic support. France is an important member of the international coalition in fighting and defeating terrorism. It has provided extensive support to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. We value and appreciate this visit at this important juncture, which demonstrates France’s continued support to the Kurdistan Region.”

The President also said that: “France has stood by the Kurdistan Region during many difficult periods. We have historic bilateral relations. At the time of the Anfal genocidal campaigns of 1988, as well as during the uprising of the 1991 in the Kurdistan Region and during the liberation of Iraq and afterwards, France has always been a close friend of the Kurdistan Region. The people of the Kurdistan Region will never forget the support and assistance provided by France.”

The President added: “I would like to express my appreciation and thank President Emmanuel Macron for his stance and role during the difficulties faced by the Kurdistan Region in the fall of 2017. He took the initiative and broke the political and diplomatic embargo that were imposed on the Kurdistan Region. France helped de-escalate tensions and restarted talks with the federal government of Iraq.”

The president also said: “During the war against ISIS, in addition to military support and security cooperation, France provided humanitarian assistance to the refugees and the displaced people in the Kurdistan Region who were of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, particularly our Christians and Yezidi sisters and brothers. France also opened its doors to them and welcomed many of them.”

The President also stated: “the Kurdistan Region looks forward to strengthening ties with France in all sectors. The Kurdistan Region welcomes French investors and companies to participate in developing its infrastructure. There are plenty of opportunities to expand bilateral relations in the political, security, academic and cultural sectors.”

The President extended his warmest regards to Ms. Parly and every French soldier stationed in the Kurdistan Region and said: “We thank them for their role in defeating ISIS. We also thank the Ambassador of France to Iraq and France’s Consul General in Erbil for their role in strengthening our bilateral ties. We also thank France for its support in confronting and containing the Covid-19 pandemic in the Kurdistan Region.”Once again, I welcome Ms. Parly. Thank you.

On her part, the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly thanked His Excellency the President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani for the warm welcome and reception.

In her remarks she said: “Following my visit to Baghdad, I am visiting the Kurdistan Region to express the support of France to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, which are facing great challenges in health and other fields”.

Ms. Parly added: “Mr. President, we are standing by you at this difficult time. We are with you in the fight against our common enemy, ISIS. In the war against ISIS, the role of the Peshmerga is important and France is proud to fight this war together with the Peshmerga, a war that has been going on for six years. It’s a difficult and complicated war, but it is an important one that must go on. We are committed to continue the war against ISIS together with you and within the international coalition. We have discussed this issue with Iraqi officials, General White and the Iraqi Defense Minister.”

Ms. Parly concluded: “Finally, I want to emphasize that we view the stability in the Middle East with concern. We reiterated to President Nechirvan Barzani that we will continue our support and will expand it. It is also imperative that Iraq’s sovereignty be preserved and external interferences and tensions come to end. There must be talks and dialogues among the regional countries in this regard and I think that President Nechirvan Barzani is working towards this objective. We can defeat ISIS together. Thank you.

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Council of Ministers meets to discuss Erbil-Baghdad relations

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Monday chaired a meeting via videoconference to discuss ongoing disputes with the federal government.

In the meeting attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, Prime Minister Barzani spoke about recent discussions between Baghdad and Erbil, and reiterated the government’s willingness for a solution within the framework of the Iraqi constitution. In that regard, the Cabinet agreed for the government’s high-level delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Talabani to return to Baghdad on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister stressed readiness to resolve outstanding differences, and reiterated his cabinet’s commitment to fulfill its obligations in return for Kurdistan Region’s constitutional and financial entitlements.

Prime Minister Barzani emphasised the importance of a comprehensive solution that clearly stipulates the duties and rights of both sides, and serves the interests of both.

The Prime Minister noted that such solution serves the interests of all Iraqi peoples, and will be an important factor for the stability of the region.

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President Nechirvan Barzani: It is time to come to a mutual understanding and settle differences

Baghdad, Iraq, June 21, 2020

During President Nechirvan Barzani’s meetings with Iraq’s President, Prime Minister, Parliament Speaker and senior political leaders in Baghdad. President Nechirvan Barzani described the current issues facing Iraq as shared difficulties and mutual responsibilities for all Iraqis. The President stated: “We share the same fate, the problems of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are the problems of all Iraqis”.

President Barzani expressed the importance of moving forward from the difficult experiences of the past years, which were marked by deadlocks and disagreements between both sides. “It is time we come to a mutual understanding through an inclusive agreement which is accepted by both sides, and ensures stability, peace, and justice.We must resolve all differences once and for all”, he added.

The President described the current circumstances and challenges as: “crises that can be turned into opportunities for cooperation and confronting the hardships and issues facing the country”. He added that tackling these issues are mutual responsibilities of all parties and that the continuation of these issues is in the interest of no one. President Barzani emphasized that we can come to a mutual understanding through joint efforts and lead the country in a direction towards better services for all citizens.

President Nechirvan Barzani reiterated that the Kurdistan Region is willing to resolve all pending issues with the federal government on the basis of the constitution of Iraq and in accordance with the federal system, rights and duties. As well as, priority be given to finding solutions that improve the living conditions of all citizens. The President expressed his appreciation to the leaders and political parties of Iraq for supporting dialogue aimed at achieving mutual agreements. He described the support as an important duty of all political parties in the country.

In return, Iraq’s leaders and political parties viewed President Nechirvan Barzani’s visit to Baghdad as a positive indication and the right step taken by the Kurdistan Region vis-à-vis Baghdad. They also expressed appreciation to the Kurdistan region for its willingness to resolve pending issues and reach an agreement with the federal government.

On the second day of his visit to Baghdad, Sunday June 21st, President Nechirvan Barzani, accompanied by Kurdistan Region Vice Presidents, held separate meetings with Mr. Ammar Al- Hakeem, leader of Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement, Mr. Hadi Al-Amiri, Head of the Fatah Alliance, Mr. Nuri Al-Maliki, head of the State of the Law Coalition and members of the leadership of Al-Sadr Movement. President Nechirvan Barzani also met with Iraq’s Prime Minister, President, Parliament Speaker and the Special representative of the UN Secretary General for Iraq.

The meetings focused on the relations between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government of Iraq and efforts to resolve the pending differences between both sides. The current state of affairs in the country, the newly formed federal government, the economic crisis and the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic were also discussed. The meetings also focused on the threats posed by the resurgence of ISIS terrorists and their recent movements and attacks, the importance of cooperation and coordination between Peshmerga and Iraqi army, the continuation of Global Coalition’s support, the role of the United Nations in Iraq, protecting the borders and sovereignty of Iraq, improving ties with neighboring countries and the international community based on mutual respect and interests.