Members of the European Parliament this week in Erbil met the Kurdistan Region’s leadership. The head of the delegation Mr Struan Stevenson said to President Barzani that Iraq and Kurdistan could provide a model in the Middle East of how challenges can be solved through democracy.
When meeting President Barzani, Mr Stevenson said that his delegation was very pleased to see the rapid political and economical developments that the Kurdistan Region has achieved over the years. He said, “We feel that Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in particular can provide a role model for how the challenges and the unrest that’s facing the wider region can be addressed through democracy.”
The delegation of MEPs, who are in the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, briefed KRG officials on the European Union’s desire for greater cooperation and engagement with Kurdistan and Iraq. They discussed an EU-sponsored business conference on Iraq planned for the end of this year or early 2012. The delegation also discussed the possibility of establishing an EU Mission in Erbil, which the President welcomed.
Mr Stevenson, who is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, also commended President Barzani for welcoming and supporting Christian families fleeing violence in other parts of Iraq. President Barzani said that Christians are an important part of Iraqi society and it is the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) duty to provide refuge to those seeking sanctuary.
President Barzani discussed the latest political developments in Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq. He said that despite the recent demonstrations, both the KRG and the federal government enjoyed popular support, as witnessed in the 2010 elections. He also detailed the recently announced reform programme and emphasised his full support for the initiative.
During their meeting with Prime Minister Salih, the delegation was updated on the KRG’s continuous efforts to improve livelihoods and the Region’s continued progress. Prime Minister Salih said, “The Kurdistan Region has developed and grown considerably, and we will continue to put all of our energy into ensuring more prosperity here, and broadening our relations with neighbouring countries and the region”.
Prime Minister Salih briefed the delegation on outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad and the recent demonstrations in Suleimaniah. He said that demonstrations are a natural and legal right of the people, which is reflected in the Region’s laws and regulations. The KRG Minister of Higher Education Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, and the Head of the KRG’s Mission to the EU Salim Gravi were also at the meeting.
The EU delegation included MEPs Mario Mauro, Jelko Kacin and John Attard-Montalto. The meeting with President Barzani was also attended by the President’s Chief of Staff, Dr Faud Hussein, the Head of KRG Department of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir and Mr Gravi.