Pope’s special envoy meets Kurdish President and Prime Minister
Cardinal Filoni, envoy for Pope Francis visited Erbil on Thursday, August 14, 2014 and separately met with Massoud Barzani, President of Kurdistan Region, and Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government.
During the meeting between President Barzani and Cardinal Filoni, the latter passed the regards of Pope Francis to President Barzani and expressed his gratitude towards Kurdistan Region, its President and its people for welcoming and helping refugees and IDPs. Filoni also appreciated the brave and continuous struggle of the Kurds and their resistance against all the odds and still protecting their values of co-existence and tolerance. “The piece of land that holds all differences together is extremely valuable for us and the whole world should know it,” said Filoni during the meeting.
Filoni also talked about the role of Peshmarga in protecting the region with all its religious and ethnic groups and their fierce resistance against terrorism. He said now in Europe, Peshmarga has become a symbol of resistance and fighting for their rights.
In return President Barzani expressed his grati- tude for the great support from Vatican and said the letter from Pope Francis is a proof that Kurds have a strong support.
“Kurdistan is fighting against a terrorist state on behalf of the whole world, a state that is against all ethnicities and religions and against life,” Barzani told Filoni and his accompanying delegation from Christian religious men. “We will fight terrorists till the last drop of our blood, and we will protect our Christian, Yezidi and other brothers and sisters.”
Barzani also asked the Christian community not to think of immigration and leaving their homeland, and told them “we will protect Kurdistan together and we will either all live in freedom and liberty or all die together.”
Barzani also expressed his gratitude towards the help and support from the international community and “our friends” for the Kurds in their fight against terrorism and strive to protect and help the IDPs. “However, terrorism is an international phenomenon and hence an international effort is required to stop it,” Barzani said. “Victory is guaranteed. A nation may lose in a military perspective but should not lose its self-confidence and should have the con- fidence to survive.”
Cardinal Filoni and his accompanying delegation also met with Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region.
The Prime Minister Bar- zani reiterated that it is the duty of the KRG to protect and support displaced Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic groups seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region. He said he would mobilize all resources to support them; however, given the number of refugees and displaced people, the KRG cannot provide adequate assistance.
They need physical protection from the terrorists, not only verbal support, because the terrorists target churches, mosques, and holy shrines. Prime Minister Barzani noted that the terrorists now constitute an army and include individuals from all over the world, so the international community, in coordination with the KRG and the Government of Iraq, must confront them together.
The Cardinal requested the KRG to identify solutions for housing and accommodation for the displaced, as well as an arrangement for students so that they would not lose an academic year. The Prime Minister promised to follow up on this request and coordinate with relevant KRG authorities to implement appropriate measures.
The delegation stated that Christians will never forget the support provided by the government and the people of Kurdistan, and that history will record these actions. Prime Minister Barzani urged the delegation to mobilize the Vatican’s international influence to support the Kurdistan Region and the displaced families it is hosting.