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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.

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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.