The Canadian Ambassador to Iraq and Jordan, Mr Mark Gwozdecky, met with Minister Falah Mustafa yesterday as part of his farewell tour of Kurdistan.
Ambassador Gwozdecky has served in his post for over three years. He will return to Ottawa to head the Middle East Bureau at their Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During their meeting, Ambassador Gwozdecky announced plans to establish diplomatic Canadian representation in Erbil to join the 27 other countries already present. He underlined the Canadian interest in further enhancing political and economic ties, saying: “I assure you my colleagues in Baghdad and myself in Ottawa will continue to promote Kurdistan.”
Minister Mustafa expressed his appreciation to Ambassador Gwozdecky and his staff for the continued exchange of visits and the plans to open representation in Erbil. He said, “An office would be another step in further strengthening the ties between us and promote ties between our institutions, universities and help enhance people-to-people ties.”
The two sides spoke in detail about previous political agreements between Erbil and Baghdad and their lack of implementation. Minister Mustafa said that there was hope for a breakthrough between the two sides to resolve differences after the recent exchange of visits, but underlined the need for commitment to power-sharing and the Constitution from Baghdad.
The meeting also touched upon the importance of sharing experiences of federalism from Canada for the betterment of Iraq and its democratic journey in general. Ambassador Gwozdecky said, “Economic prosperity will not last unless there is political continuity.” He added that Canada stands ready to support the democratic process in Iraq.”
Minister Mustafa assured him that Kurdistan and its leadership is committed to democracy and called on Canada to engage in the process to help build institutions, share experiences in civil society, strengthen the rule of law, and build awareness about the role of each sector in democracy, including the media.
The two sides discussed the continued crisis in Syria and its potential ramification for the greater region. Ambassador Gwozdecky expressed his appreciation on behalf of the Canadian Government for the hospitality the KRG was providing to about 160,000 Syrian refugees. He said, “This is a symbol of your support and respect for human rights. It is a real act of generousity.”
They both agreed on the need for a permanent solution to the crisis and said that the international community must act quickly to find a peaceful transition to democracy.
Ambassador Gwozdecky was accompanied by the Charge d’affairs in Baghdad, Ms Stephanie Duhaime. The meeting was also attended by Assistant-Head of DFR, Ms Siham Jabali.