Barzani’s visit to Europe boosts KRG’s relations with France and Italy
The Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani visited France and Italy last week. The President first met the French President François Hollande in Paris and then Pope Francis in the Vatican. The President also met senior Italian government officials in Rome.
President Barzani and his accompanying KRG delegation aimed to boost KRG’s relations with France and Italy.
Meeting the Italian Foreign Minister in Rome
Barzani arrived in Rome on Wednesday to meet with the Pope and the Italian government officials.
During his two-day visit, the President held separate meetings with the Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, the President of the Italian Senate, Mr. Pietro Grasso, and with the Chair- man and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The meetings focused on bilateral ties, the political developments in Iraq- particularly after the recent parliamentary elections, the Syrian refugees, and the situation of Christians in Iraq and in Kurdistan in particular.
The Italian Foreign Minister Mogherini said:" She is pleased with the status of her country’s economic and political relations with the KRG and that her country will soon upgrade its diplomatic representation to a full consulate general."
On the situation of the refugees in Kurdistan, the Foreign Minister commended the KRG for taking in refugees not only from Syria, but also Arabs and Christians from other parts of Iraq. She expressed her country’s willingness to help the KRG in its efforts to support these refugees.
The two also discussed the political developments in Iraq and efforts to form a new government after the recent elections. In this regards, President Barzani said that the Kurdistan Region has formed a unified negotiation team for talks with other Iraqi parties. He stated that the people of Kurdistan cannot wait another ten years for their legitimate and constitutional demands to be addressed. If these demands are not satisfied, then the KRG leadership would ask the people of Kurdistan through a referendum to decide on their future relationship with Baghdad.
Barzani received by Pope Francis at the Vatican
The Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday.
At the outset of the meeting, Pope Francis said that he was aware of the situation of the Kurds and of their tragedies in the past. He commended President Barzani and the people of Kurdistan for what they have achieved, particularly in offering the Kurdistan Region as a safe haven for Syrian refugees and for Christians fleeing violence in other parts of Iraq.
The Pope also praised President Barzani for KRG’s policy of promoting tolerance and peaceful co-existence among different religious communities. He expressed his hope that the Kurdistan would continue to enjoy peace and prosperity.
For his part, President Barzani talked about tolerance in Kurdistan as a long-standing tradition that has popular support. He said that people of different religions have made sacrifices together in the past and now live side by side in peace and freedom.
On the situation of the refugees and the Christians who have sought refuge in Kurdistan, President Barzani said that the KRG would continue to provide assistance to them as a humanitarian duty.
Barzani Meets French President Hollande in Paris
President Barzani met with French President François Hollande in Paris on Friday.
In their meeting at the Élysée Palace, President Hollande and President Barzani discussed bilateral relations between France and the Kurdistan Region, the Syrian crisis and the situation of Syrian refugees there, the recent elections held in Kurdistan and in Iraq, and prospects for the formation of the new Iraqi government.
President Hollande welcomed President Barzani’s visit to Paris and reiterated his country’s support for the Kurdistan Region, expressing his hope that Kurdistan would continue to develop and prosper.
On the political situation in Iraq, President Barzani said that the recent election must provide an opportunity for real democracy and federalism to take root in Iraq; otherwise the country will face an uncertain future, he added.
The two also discussed economic relations and the role of French businesses in Kurdistan. President Hollande stated that French companies and businesses must be more active in Kurdistan. They also agreed to maintain their consultations on the crisis in Syrian and over the challenges facing the region in general.