Ashti Hawrami Addresses UK Businesses and Politicians

Initially wary after the removal of the Baathist regime in Baghdad, Turkey, Britain’s closest ally in the region, has been the quickest to embrace the new realities of the region. It has built a sustainable relationship of mutual interests with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), one based on trade, security and strategic co-operation.

The Kurdistan Region, in this context, has proven that it can be a crucial partner to Turkey and indeed the broader international community.

We are greatly encouraged by the strong support given by both David Cameron and William Hague for Turkey’s goal of becoming a member of the EU. The foreign secretary has argued that Turkish accession would create new opportunities for exporters and investors, and link the UK and Europe to markets and especially energy sources in central Asia and the Near East.

With Europe’s energy consumption expected to rocket over the next few decades, it is clear that new and more diverse sources of energy are urgently required.

The Russian-Ukrainian dispute over gas supplies in 2009 was an important wake-up call.

Estimates put KRG gas reserves between 3-6 trillion cubic meters. The KRG can meet the long-term gas supply needs of Turkey and Europe, as a reliable alternative to the existing gas suppliers.

We are currently in negotiations with major European energy companies to export gas to Turkey and Europe through the Nabucco pipeline. For Kurdistan and Iraq the prospect of being at the centre of the EU’s future energy plans is an unparalleled opportunity.

The recognition of the strategic importance of Iraqi Kurdistan has blossomed in recent years and hope for a bright and just future is replacing the dread and fear of the old times. It is often said that the Kurds have no friends but the mountains, to which they have been forced to flee all too often. More and more investors and other partners are now flying over those mountains to trade and exchange ideas. It is time British businessmen joined their ranks.

(Source: Kurdistan Regional Government)

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