Falah Mustafa meets Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio of the Vatican
As part of his visit to Italy, Falah Mustafa, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Department of Foreign Relations, visited Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the Pope’s representative, in the Vatican. Minister Mustafa was accompanied by Rezan Hamasalih, a representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Italy, and Suham Mamand, the Deputy Foreign Relations Manager, Advisor Salim Ibrahim and a number of other members of the KRG office.
Cardinal Coccopalmerio welcomed the Kurdish delegation to the Vatican and stated that dialogue is one of the bases of understanding and that the Pope has always made dialogue a principle for mutual understanding with other religions, especially Islam. He also referred to the strong ties between the Kurdistan Region and the Vatican, saying that the KRG President has visited the Vatican and met with the Pope on several occasions.
Minister Mustafa expressed his gratitude to Cardinal Coccopalmerio for meeting the delegation and passed on the regards of the President and Prime Minster of the Kurdistan Region to the Pope. He also thanked the Vatican for the continuous support they have shown the KRG representation in Italy and hoped their relationship would continue to grow in the future.
“The Prime Minister assigns considerable importance to the KRG’s relationship with the Vatican and this visit aims to facilitate an exchange of thoughts on how these ties might be developed,” Mustafa told Coccopalmerio.
The KRG official then described the situation in Kurdistan with the Region’s principle of religious freedom and cultural tolerance and the coexistence of different ethnicities and religions. He talked about government initiatives to deepen and strengthen these principles in the Kurdistan community and its policy of allocating appropriate roles in government institutions to every sects and groups in the Region.
He also told the cardinal about the help and assistance the government has given to refugees, and the role played by Kurdish leaders, and President Massoud Barzani in particular, in guaranteeing minority religious and ethnic rights in the Iraqi permanent constitution. He finished by describing the legacy of the legendary Kurdish leader, Mustafa Barzani, and his support for peace, tolerance and coexistence.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government does not see religious and ethnic differences as a threat to Kurdish society, but rather as a source of strength and wealth,” Mustafa told Coccopalmerio.
Cardinal Coccopalmerio passed on the regards of the Pope to the KRG President and the people of Kurdistan and thanked the KRG for its efforts on behalf of, and continuous support for, the Christians in Kurdistan and Iraq. As he said, “We support the establishment of ties with the Kurdistan Region and the development of these relations. We will continue to support the KRG office in Italy and hope to visit the Kurdistan Region in the future.”
At the end of the meeting, Minister Mustafa briefed Coccopalmerio on the sufferings of the Kurdish nation, which include chemical bombing, the Anfal and the destruction of Kurdistani villages as part of the genocidal policies of successive Iraqi governments. He also talked briefly about recent developments in Kurdistan in the spheres of politics, security, stability, the economy, society and international relations.