Egypt’s Consul in Erbil on Wednesday hosted the first ever Egyptian National Day reception in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The consulate, which was opened late last year, has paved the way for closer ties in many areas and is working to start Egypt Air flights between Cairo and Erbil in the near future.
In his speech at the celebration, the Egyptian Consul Mr Sulaiman Othman spoke about the importance the national day holds for the people of Egypt. He said that the Egyptian government remains committed to sustaining and strengthening relations with Iraq as a whole and with the Kurdistan Region in particular, after Egypt’s recent revolution. Mr Othman thanked the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, for his support which he said was crucial in opening the consulate in Erbil.
The celebration was held at the Khanzad Hotel, where the guests included Dr Fuad Hussein, who attended on behalf of President Masoud Barzani; the Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament Dr Kamal Kirkuki; and the Minister of Culture and Youth Mr Kawa Mahmoud, who attended on behalf of Prime Minister Barham Salih.
Mr Othman spoke about the close cooperation between the Egyptian government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since the establishment of the consulate. He said, “We are deeply appreciative of the constant assistance and instrumental support provided to us by KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih and the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa Bakir.”
Mr Othman said that the Egyptian Consulate in the Kurdistan Region has helped pave the way for closer political, economic and cultural ties. He re-affirmed Egypt’s commitment to strengthening relations with Kurdistan on many fronts, and anticipated a sharp increase in these relations once Egypt Air starts its flights from Cairo to Erbil. He also thanked other KRG ministers and other senior government officials for their assistance since the opening of the Consulate.
Speaking on behalf of President Barzani, Dr Hussein said, “The Kurdistan Region values and thanks the Egyptian people for the historic assistance provided to the Kurdish people. Egypt was the first country in the Arab world to allow a Kurdish newspaper to be published. In addition, when the late Mullah Mustafa Barzani returned from exile in the Soviet Union to Iraq, he stopped by Cairo first to meet with Egyptian political leaders, before making his way to Baghdad.”
The Minister of Culture and Youth Kawa Mahmoud, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Salih, talked about the hope and will of the KRG to further develop political, economic and cultural relations with Egypt. He said, “The KRG is proud of its close friendship with the Egyptian government and the people of Egypt, and hopes that close coordination would continue and improve between both sides.”
The Arab Republic of Egypt was the first Arab country to open a consulate in the Kurdistan Region in November 2010, with the presence of the then Foreign Minister of Egypt, Mr Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Other guests included KRG ministers, members of the Kurdistan Parliament, leaders from the different Kurdish political parties, members of the diplomatic corps based in Erbil, and representatives of the local and international business communities.