President Barzani joins the 237th anniversary of American Independence Day
KRG and the U.S. keep on strengthening bilateral relations
The President of Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, joined the celebrations for the 237th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in Erbil on Wednesday 3 July 2013.
The event was also attended by KRG ministers and local officials, representatives of business and academia, the governors of Erbil and Duhok and foreign diplomats.
Speaking at the event, the Consul General of the United States in Erbil, Mr. Paul Stephen, said: “I am delighted that you are joining us as we celebrate America’s Independence Day. Americans are a people whose roots extend all over the world, including to Iraq and the Kurdistan region.”
He thanked President Barzani for his presence at the event, saying: “President Masoud Barzani, thank you for honoring us with your presence—Zor Supas.”
The Consul General also said that Independence Day is the birthday not of a king or queen, but of an idea that has shaped the world.
“We celebrate the Fourth of July because it marks the date on which we signed our Declaration of Independence,” the Consul General said.
“The Declaration of Independence stands as the moral and philosophical compass for the United States’ values as a na- tion, and a bold statement for the rights of all humanity.”
Mr. Stephen also added that all Iraqis are all too familiar with the costs of tyranny and oppression, affirming that “The people must rule. They must never be ruled.”
“As we mark the 237th birthday of the United States, all of us who have had the privilege of representing our country in Iraq are grateful for the friendship of, and partnership with, the Iraqi people, including our friends and partners here in the Kurdistan region.”
He told those present that he will be handing his position over to a new consul soon, when he returns to Washington DC to take up a new assignment. Mr. Stephen then introduced the new U.S. Consul General in Erbil, Mr. Joseph Pennington, who will be serving in the post for the next two years.
He announced that the consulate granted its first visa last week to a young Kurdish student traveling to the US as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program. He also said the consulate will begin work on a new, larger compound next year.
In the context of US assistance to Iraq, the United States has played its part in the development of this dynamic region. Since 2003, the United States has invested well over $1b in the Kurdistan Region on building schools, hospitals, bridges, courthouses and electricity substations, including the $198m Ifraz water project, which now brings water to the residents of Erbil. The U.S. has also made significant contributions to Erbil International Airport and the city’s Police College.
More recently, the consulate has been involved in training police and immigration officers, and worked with its partners in the KRG to improve higher education and the functioning of its ministries and local govern- ments.
With the current crisis in Syria, the consulate has made a $44 m commitment to supporting Syrian refugees in Iraq—the vast majority of those refugees are Syrian Kurds seeking refuge in the Kurdistan region.
Making a speech at the event, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), spoke on behalf of the KRG presidency. He stated that the friendship between the U.S. and Kurdistan is now firmly established, adding that Kurdistan is now stable and prosperous and that the two parties will now strive side by side to strengthen bilateral relations.
The Consul General also stated that the United States remains absolutely committed to assisting its partners as they make the difficult journey towards promoting their common ideals and making them a common reality.
The U.S. Consulate General will continue its work as a partner and supporter of strong relations between the United States and Kurdistan.