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New agricultural project in Duhok to create more than 500 jobs

Duhok, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Thursday laid the foundation stone of a potato production factory in Duhok, set to provide 500 jobs and make use of local potato product.

“This is a great support for our people to rely on themselves, so that we will no longer have to import products from other countries,” said Prime Minister Barzani in his speech at the ceremony.

500 factory jobs will be offered as part of the project being carried out by the Like Nest Company, with the help of Kurdish and Dutch investors. It will initially receive 45,000 tons of potatoes from farmers, and another 100,000 tons annually following its completion.

“We want Kurdistan to be known for the quality of its products,” the Premier said, adding that the government prefers the use local products.

The Prime Minister also expressed his gratitude to the government of the Netherlands for their investment and cooperation in the Kurdistan Region’s agriculture sector.

 

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One travel two views, the event about traveling to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Madrid, 11 of June 2021

Yesterday in the cultural centre La Corrala (UAM) in Madrid took place an event “Kurdistan-Iraq: one travel, two views”.  The conference was organized by Fernando Camacho Padilla, an associate professor of contemporary history at the Autonoma University of Madrid, and Edith Carrillo Alonso, an art historian interested in Indo-European culture and art in collaboration with the Persian cultural center Persepolis and the KRG Office in Spain.

The event was offered both in-person and streaming and was very well received by the audience: around 30 people met in the conference room and another 35 followed online.

During the presentation, Fernando Camacho and Edith Carrillo shared their experience in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they have travelled to for 10 days during the end of March and the beginning of April this year. Both speakers showed pictures of Kurdish historical and cultural sites while they were describing their activities in the area. They both addressed many aspects of Iraqi Kurdistan region: culture, history and present reality seen in Erbil, Slimani, Alqosh, Lalish, Duhok, Amedi, Barzan, Halabja and other places of great historical, archaeological and tourist interest.

It was a very inspiring event. Many attendees asked questions expressing their intention to travel to Iraqi Kurdistan region as soon as the pandemic situation improves.

You can see the event here in Spanish:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3c1F01gHPw

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2CiKzxdytI

Photos: Inchul Jung

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani launches Wheat Marketing Project in Slemani

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today laid the foundational stone for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Wheat Marketing Project in Slemani.

The $122 million project will be implemented by Qaiwan Group, in accordance with international standards, and finalized by 2025.

At the inaugural ceremony, the Prime Minister described the agriculture project as a strategic investment to support local farmers and strengthen the Kurdistan Region’s food security.

Under its ambitious reform and economic diversification plan, the Kurdistan Regional Government has invested 8 percent of its annual budget in agriculture since the formation of the ninth Cabinet, a significant increase compared to 1.5 percent under the previous cabinet.

 

The Wheat Marketing Project in Slemani includes:

• A Flour Production Factory

• A Bulgur Factory

• A Pasta factory.

• Grain Silos

• A Research and Development Center

• A Control Room

• An Administrative Facility

• A Fire Department

• A Sales Department

• An On Site Medical Clinic

• A Weighing and Measuring Facility

• Residential Units for Employees

• Café and Restaurant

• A Recreational Center

• Storage Units

2021-05-20

New steel factory to provide over 1,000 jobs

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today inaugurated the largest steel factory in the country.

The $100 million private investment will create more than 1,000 jobs as part of the government’s economic diversity agenda.

At the inaugural ceremony, the Prime Minister described the industrial project as one of many strategic investments to support the private sector.

The Med Steel factory will produce high-grade metal and steel in line with international standards. Built on over 600,000 metres, and a annual capacity of 350,000 tons, the plant’s recycling process will reduce carbon emissions.

Prime Minister Barzani said the cabinet vision for sustainable growth requires a shared commitment to the development of the Kurdistan Region. ‘I am glad to see the fruits of our efforts, and to see Kurdistan Region taking a step forward, day after day’.

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President Nechirvan Barzani’s statement on the anniversary of the Anfal genocide

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, April 14, 2021

Today, we remember the 33rd anniversary of the Anfal operations, which was one of the most vicious crimes committed by the former Iraqi regime. Hundreds of thousands of innocent women, men, children and elderly people were forcibly taken from Kurdistan to the mass grave sites, where there was no escape. The regime brutally committed the mass killing and infanticide of more than 182,000 citizens. The genocidal Anfal crimes also led to the destruction of the beautiful environment and nature of our country as it erased traces of life permanently from thousands of villages and localities in Kurdistan.

As we mark this day, we pay tribute to the memory of our fallen victims, and we remember them with honor. They will always be in the memory of the people of Kurdistan. We honor them and pay tribute to their families who have withstood the endless pain and agony of losing their loved ones. All resources must be available to provide more and better services to the families of our fallen victims.

As we remember the victims and all martyrs of Kurdistan, it is crucial that we make all efforts to prevent the repetition of such genocidal crimes in Kurdistan or any other place in the world. This national tragedy must encourage us to further maintain unity, tolerance and mutual respect.

After the Supreme Court of Iraq recognized the Anfal crimes as genocide, crime against humanity, and war crimes, the state if Iraq has an obligation to compensate the families of the victims financially and morally. We urge the government of Iraq to provide reparations to the families of the victims. We also call on the international community to recognize this crime as genocide. The Anfal genocide should be documented in school curricula and everywhere that is necessary.

We pay tribute to the victim’s of Anfal genocide, they will always remain in our memory.

Nechirvan Barzani

President of the Kurdistan Region

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The professor from the Autonoma University of Madrid (UAM), Fernando Camacho Padilla, visits Kurdistan Region- Iraq to explore possibilities for academic cooperation.

Dr. Fernando Camacho Padilla, the professor of contemporary history at the Autonoma University of Madrid (UAM), wrapped up his trip to the Kurdistan region of Iraq last week. The main goal of his travel to the region was to visit Kurdish universities and study the possibilities of cooperation in different areas, such as students and professors exchange, joint research and publications, language teachers exchange etc.

Dr. Camacho Padilla, with the support of the KRG representation in Spain (KRG Spain), has visited Sulaimaniya University (public), Komar University (private), Koya University (public) and the University of Salahaddin – Erbil (public), all four universities are very well placed, both in the national and in the Middle East rankings.

The presidents and vice-presidents of the universities, as well as the deans of various faculties, received Dr. Camacho Padilla.  The professor Camacho Padilla presented his university, one of the best universities in Spain and worldwide, according to international rankings and spoke about the existing collaboration models between UAM and other foreign universities, especially in the Middle East. The UAM is a part of the “4 Universities Alliance”, which also includes Autonoma University of Barcelona, ​ Carlos III University of Madrid, and Pompeu Fabra University. These four universities collaborate with each other within the framework of the Erasmus + K017 program, focused on academic cooperation mainly with non – European universities. In the Middle East, the UAM works close with the University of Tehran and the Allameh Tabataba’i University.

The presidents of the universities spoke about their universities and expressed great interest in collaborating with the UAM.  Most of them have previous experience in the field of academic cooperation with Spain, such as: the Erasmus Marhaba program (University of Santiago de Compostela and the University of Almería), as well as Erasmus + program (University of Malaga) The University of Sulaimaniya also collaborates with the University of Murcia.

Additionally, Dr. Camacho Padilla underlined the importance of teaching of Spanish language in Kurdish universities – the idea that was received with great enthusiasm by Kurdish academics. This project would further contribute to the academic relations of cooperation and friendship between Spain and Kurdistan.

We have spoken with Dr. Camacho Padilla about his trip.

GRK Spain: What was the main reason of your visits to the Kurdistan region universities?

Dr. Camacho Padilla: Since I joined the UAM in January 2015, I have been struck by the interest that students have in the history of Kurdistan. The war against DAESH and the fundamental role of the Peshmerga in its defeat has made a good part of Spanish society know more closely the reality of the Kurdish people. Many students write their works, as well as master’s and bachelor’s theses, about the Kurdish. Several students have also asked me to include this topic to the study programs of the subjects I teach and even asked about possibilities for academic exchange in Kurdistan and / or recommendations on how to travel to the area to do field research.

GRK Spain: What impressions have you had about the universities in the Kurdistan region? And about Kurdistan in general?

Dr. Camacho Padilla: I have been extremely impressed by the high academic level of the universities in the region. In addition to having a long history of academic cooperation with universities in different countries, they have numerous scientific journals and a highly qualified teaching team, as well as extraordinary facilities, with large campuses and excellent equipment in the classrooms. In appearance, they could perfectly be any of the best-known Spanish universities. When it comes to Kurdistan, I want to emphasize that it is a very safe and quiet region. It is certainly an exception in the area. There is practically no crime, and the people are very friendly and helpful. It has also surprised me that a good part of the population speaks some English, so it is quite easy to get along.

GRK Spain: Do you think it would be possible for Spanish students to travel to Iraqi Kurdistan for academic stays?

Dr. Camacho Padilla: I believe that Kurdistan region meets all requirements for Spanish students to travel there safely. Additionally, there is great ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity. It is definitely one of the richest territories in the Middle East, when it comes to heritage. All this is of a great value for the learning and maturing process of the students.

GRK Spain: What plans do you have to start the collaboration between UAM and the universities of Kurdistan?

Dr. Camacho Padilla: We must continue studying the different options for cooperation, especially in two areas. First of all, the possibility for the students  to convalidate their studies,  so they do not lose the academic year. Second, the search for topics of common interest between Kurdish and Spanish professors to plan research projects and joint publications. In any case, having visited Kurdistan, I firmly believe that both points could be resolved easily now.

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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.