Former UK PM Opens British Consulate General in Erbil

Regarding the protests in Kurdistan that ended last month, Sir John said, “The demonstrations, uprisings and demands for reform that have swept across the Middle East have, tragically, led to deaths. Sadly, that is also true in Iraqi Kurdistan: but here the circumstances surrounding those deaths are different: first, they are being investigated; and second, Kurdistan is in the process of passionate political debate about how to reform. The United Kingdom fully supports that debate – we welcome it – and we congratulate President Barzani and Prime Minister Salih on the work they are doing to develop a reform agenda.”

He added, “I hope you will continue to see Britain as an ally. We are ready to help in this process of democratic and economic development.

During difficult times, we were a friend of Kurdistan. During more peaceful times – as you move forward into a more prosperous future ¬– we remain a committed friend.”

Later the former Prime Minister spoke to students and academics of the University of Kurdistan Hewler and Salahadin University. Sir John told his young audience, “I witnessed the bravery of the Kurdish nation at the end of First Gulf War. Many Kurds were being murdered by Saddam Hussein. It was an attempt at genocide, nothing less.” He said that those scenes led Britain and others to establish a safe haven for the Kurds. “Being at the University of Kurdistan today illustrates to me how worthwhile that was.” He added, “I’m astonished at how far you have come in 20 years. I’m hugely encouraged, not just by your movement towards democracy but also trade, growth and progress. I see no reason why that shouldn’t continue.”

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