On an official visit to Sofia, Bulgaria last week, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani held meetings with the country’s leaders to promote bilateral relations and cooperation.
President Barzani met President Rosen Plevneliev and talked about the many cultural and historical similarities that the people of Kurdistan and Bulgaria share.
“Our peoples have much in common. Both our peoples emerged from years of suffering under totalitarian regimes and are now living in freedom. We can learn much from each other and we are prepared to establish strong cooperation with your country,” said President Barzani in his meeting with President Plevneliev.
The Bulgarian President highlighted his country’s recent participation in the liberation of Iraq from Saddam’s regime, and both sides discussed the development of further economic cooperation between their peoples.
President Barzani thanked the people and government of Bulgaria for their role in freeing the Iraqi people from the former regime, and he extended a formal invitation to the Bulgarian President and Prime Minister to visit the Kurdistan Region.
In a separate meeting, President Barzani and Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov discussed ways to develop cooperation and investment opportunities in a number of fields including agriculture, energy, water resources, education, health and tourism.
“We would like to establish a strategic relationship with the Kurdistan Region, and to this end, we are prepared to work with you in a number of areas. We will encourage Bulgarian companies to explore trade and investment opportunities in Kurdistan and through Kurdistan as a gateway, in the rest of Iraq” said Prime Minister Borisov, hailing the stability and economic potential of the Kurdistan Region.
President Barzani said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is equally keen to establish strong ties with Bulgaria and it invites Bulgarian firms and investors to explore opportunities in Kurdistan.
Both sides agreed on the need for follow-up meetings by field experts and further visits between officials from both sides, in order to further explore areas for mutual cooperation.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov, who also attended the meeting, said that Bulgaria has decided to reopen its embassy in Baghdad and it will also open a consulate in Erbil in 2012 to help strengthen ties.
Several KRG officials joined President Barzani on this important visit, including the General Director of the KRG Protection and Intelligence Agency, Masrour Barzani; the President’s Chief of Staff, Dr Fuad Hussein; the Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Ashti Hawrami; the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa; and the Chairman of the Kurdistan Investment Board, Herish Muharam.
President Barzani’s delegation also met the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament Tsetska Tsacheva and several other officials and institutions.
The President visited the Iraqi Embassy in Sofia to meet with the Iraqi Ambassador and members of the local Kurdish community. He attended a lunch with a number of other ambassadors from the Middle East and discussed the political situation in Iraq and recent developments throughout the region.
The delegation ended its two-day visit to Bulgaria on Friday and travelled on to the United States to meet President Barack Obama and other US officials this week.