President Barzani Hosts Annual Diplomatic Corps Meeting
President of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, yesterday hosted foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations based in Erbil to discuss the developments in Kurdistan and the wider region and to reflect on 2015.
At the outset of the meeting, the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa gave an overview of the activities of the Department of Foreign Relations and stressed that despite the challenges facing the region the KRG continues its efforts to expand ties with the international community.
Minister Mustafa added, “The number of foreign diplomatic representations is constantly growing. Currently there are 34 foreign representations offices in Kurdistan and we will soon witness the opening of new foreign offices.”
In his remarks to this annual gathering, President Barzani wished the members of the diplomatic corps a Happy New Year and then shed light on a number of key issues facing the Kurdistan Region, in particular the military, humanitarian and financial challenges and ties between Erbil and Baghdad.
Highlighting the sacrifices of the Peshmerga forces President Barzani Said, “Our brave Peshmerga forces have destroyed the myth of ISIS. With limited resources, Peshmerga fighters have been able to inflict heavy damage on ISIS terrorists and regain control of 27,000 square kilometers that was lost to ISIS in the summer of 2014.” Referring to the areas that fall under article 140, the President emphasized that the Kurdistan Region will not impose its will and that the people living in those areas will have the right to decide their fate through referendum.
The President thanked the members of the counter ISIS coalition for their military support to the Peshmerga forces but stressed that continued support is needed, as ISIS remains a threat to regional and international peace and security. He encouraged all regional powers to unite forces against ISIS and stated that the Kurdistan Region will not be part of the ongoing sectarian rivalry across the Middle East.
Regarding the presence of 1.8 million refugees and displaced people in the Kurdistan Region, President Barzani stated, “We consider caring for refugees and displaced people in the region as our humanitarian duty. We have done whatever we can to relieve the suffering of these vulnerable people but considering the financial challenges facing the KRG, sustaining such kind of support would require further assistance from our friends in the international community.”
President Barzani reiterated the commitment of the Kurdistan Region to solve its outstanding issues with Baghdad through dialogue and peaceful means. Commenting on the internal political developments, the President said that he would meet all political parties in the Kurdistan Region to reach a consensus on the outstanding political issues.
On behalf of the diplomatic corps, the Consul General of Palestine, Nazmi Hazouri, who serves as the dean of the diplomats, thanked President Barzani and DFR for the opportunity and valued KRG’s humanitarian and military role in the face of regional crisis.
At the end of the meeting, several diplomats and representatives exchanged thoughts on developments in Kurdistan and the wider region with President Barzani.