Speech by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, at the STEAM Conference, Saad Palace Conference Centre, Erbil, 20th May 2012.
Good morning and welcome to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.
I would like to welcome His Excellency Taner Yildiz, the Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Madhat Balkan, Chairman of the STEAM organization, and the representative of the Turkish Foreign Ministry to this conference.
I am pleased and privileged to see the participation of the officials from the federal government and of the governors of Kirkuk and Nineveh in this important conference.
I would also like to warmly welcome all of the international companies, diplomats and distinguished guests, and I would like to thank the Strategic Technical Economic Researches Centre (STEAM) for organizing this important conference here in Erbil.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We at the Kurdistan Regional Government are very pleased to have the opportunity to hold this first international energy conference here in Erbil. The presence of the international companies in the field of energy, and their participation in this event is significant.
We hope that our energy and natural resources will become a source of greater prosperity and wellbeing for all the peoples of Iraq.
The presence of His Excellency Minister Taner Yildiz [Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources] and other Turkish guests is a sign of our cooperation with Turkey in natural resources, and a testament to how we can support this important sector through our historic ties in this region.
Economic and commercial activity can often lead to reducing political tensions, and they can be helpful in building stronger ties in other fields as well, such as political, social, educational and other areas of life. We have very clearly seen that as a result of working together and maintaining strong economic ties, we are able to make major political achievements.
Turkey’s dynamic economic activity and its ambitions to be a top ten global economy make it a key gateway for both the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq.
In the past years, as a result of our welcoming environment and a generous investment law, Turkey has become a major foreign partner and investor in the Kurdistan Region.
In the past, and through our discussions and talks with our partners in Turkey, we have discussed many significant issues, which are important to help ensure a stable and prosperous Iraq in the future and also to reference the important role that a stable, federal and democratic Iraq can play in the region for the benefit of all sides.
We have also taken serious practical steps to promote and encourage building strategic relationships between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region in ways that will serve the interests of all the peoples of Iraq.
Cooperation and coordination across all economic fields in general, but particularly in the energy sector, is a key foundation of the KRG’s functioning policies. We have taken steps toward a prosperous future and to secure economic growth in the Kurdistan Region and in the rest of Iraq in accordance with Iraq’s permanent Constitution.
The articles of this constitution related to the energy and hydrocarbons sector are very clear. They are the guidelines for our work, and they will remain as our guide as we continue our policy and work in this regard.
We are committed to use our natural resources wisely and prudently. We want our oil and gas to be a source of prosperity for our people. Therefore we will continue our policies internally, and on the external level, we will continue to develop our economic and commercial relations with the international community in a way that will be beneficial to all sides.
Unlike some of the officials of the federal government in Baghdad, we believe that our policies in the field of energy and natural resources should be based on cooperation and coordination, and not on hostility, confrontation and retaliation.
Our vision and our policy in this regard is that the natural resources of Iraq can only be used to benefit all the peoples of Iraq.
It is as a result of this policy that Kurdistan has been able to put its fingerprint on global energy map, and there is no doubt that Kurdistan will have an important role in providing energy to the world.
The Kurdistan Region has also become a gateway for all of Iraq, and it has become an important hub for international business and commercial activity, with hundreds of foreign companies and investors safely and successfully operating here.
For all our successes that I have referenced, I do not want to avoid the problems that we have in this Region. However, I also want to emphasize that the transition from dictatorship and destruction to democracy, reconstruction and development is long and often very difficult. Changing old ways of thinking is not a simple process.
However, we believe in the principle of learning from the past and from our experiences, and we are working hard to promote the values of individual liberty, democracy, rule of law and the free market in our Region.
There is no doubt that we will continue to promote these principles as we continue our work to utilize our natural resources in the interests of all Iraq’s peoples.
And, we will also continue in our efforts to secure the use of natural resources and revenue sharing among all the regions in a fair and just manner to serve our people in accordance with the articles of the Iraqi constitution.
Because of its delay, and in the absence of the federal oil and gas law, the Kurdistan Parliament passed the hydrocarbon law of the Region in 2007 in accordance with the permanent constitution of Iraq, and the progress and development that we have seen as a result of this effort proves the soundness of that policy. The truth of our success over the past 5 years speaks for itself, and we will therefore continue stepping confidently forward in this effort.
We are also pleased to see that a number of other regions in Iraq are taking steps to follow the same path and share our experience. And, it is their constitutional right to manage their resources in their own provinces.
Therefore we hope that the federal hydrocarbon law and a revenue sharing law will soon be approved through the Iraqi Council of Representatives in order that there will be a legal and constitutional description of the relationship between the petroleum operations between Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, which clearly should be in line with the articles and items of Iraq’s federal constitution.
Once again I would like to reiterate that partnership in the management of the natural resources and ensuring a fair and just distribution of revenues between all the areas of Iraq is the basis for progress and prosperity of all Iraq’s people. This is a basic principle, and any attempt to avoid applying the principles of the constitution will have no outcome apart from delay and failure.
What we have worked and sacrificed for is a democratic, federal and pluralistic Iraq that serves the interests of all Iraq and protects the economic and political freedoms that we all strive for, and we will continue in this effort.
The people of Kurdistan have come a long way from the suffering, misery and oppression of our past. We have worked hard, and made many sacrifices, in order to obtain a bright and prosperous future.
As a result of these efforts, we are optimistic about our future, and we will continue to make progress and provide stability, security and prosperity for Region, where the benefits of a growing and diversified economy can improve the lives of all our people.
Our working policy is in accordance with the constitution, and it is in the service of all the people of Iraq. We are determined to work in order to reach results and points of decision with our Iraqi partners in order to partnership in management and an equal division of revenues.
We in the Kurdistan Regional Government are pleased that our relations with the government of Turkey has entered a new stage, especially in the energy sector, and we highly value this relationship, working together, and the openness of the Republic of Turkey. Their policy and position has a great deal of significance for us here in the Kurdistan Region and in all of Iraq.
We are optimistic that after our visit to this country, there will be a qualitative change in our relations, and this will be another evidence of the political will, the willingness to work together, and the common understanding that will bring about better outcomes for both sides.
The advancement of relations between the KRG and the Republic of Turkey is in the interest of all Iraq, and our Region, as an important part of Iraq, can play a positive and effective role in further developing these relations on the basis of our mutual interests.
We in the Kurdistan Region have repeatedly said that we are committed to a federal and democratic system in Iraq, and we are also committed to the constitution which was ratified by 80% of the people of Iraq. This commitment is both for now, and for guaranteeing a bright future for this country in which all of us should work together as partners and participants in the management and administration of power.
Finally, I would once again like to thank you. I am pleased to participate in this first of its kind energy conference, and I welcome you all to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
I wish you all success in this conference, and I hope that its outcome will be a source of greater prosperity for all the people of both Iraq and Turkey. And, I hope that this conference will further encourage reputable international companies in the energy sector to partner with us in the ongoing development and reconstruction of this Region.
Once again you are all very welcome. Thank you, and I wish you wealth and success.