Karim Sinjari, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Interior Minister, yesterday met Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, who offered Scotland’s cooperation in a wide range of fields and discussed ways to strengthen relations among the peoples of both nations.
Minister Sinjari separately met Kenny MacAskill, Scotland’s Justice Secretary, and visited the Scottish Police College.
The meetings were part of a two-day visit to Scotland by Minister Sinjari who is accompanied by Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG’s Representative to the UK.
Mr Sinjari called on First Minister Salmond at Bute House, the Scottish premier’s official residence, where they were joined by Fiona Hyslop, the External Relations and Culture Secretary, and Hanzala Malik, a member of the Scottish Parliament who has visited Kurdistan.
The meeting focused on areas of future cooperation between Scotland and Kurdistan, from education, health, policing, energy and business, to culture and heritage.
Mr Sinjari invited the First Minister to visit Kurdistan and said that Scottish companies and universities should visit the Region which is attracting companies from other parts of the UK.
In a separate meeting at the Scottish Parliament, Mr Sinjari met Justice Secretary MacAskill, where they discussed the various ways that their two ministries could cooperate. As part of his remit, Scotland’s Justice Secretary is responsible in parliament for the police, prisons, fire and rescue services and human rights.
Scotland has already provided some police training in Kurdistan and the two ministers discussed ways to take this forward and widen the cooperation to other areas such as fire prevention.
Mr Malik, the member of the Scottish Parliament, helped to organise training for the Kurdish police and is working towards forming a cross-party group in parliament to focus on the Middle East and Asia, including Kurdistan.
Scotland and the Kurdistan Region share some similarities: both have populations of about 5million, are rich in oil and gas and have a devolved or federal settlement in the states that they are part of.
The visit to Scotland is part of the KRG’s deepening relationship with the UK.
In the past several years, there have been many exchanges between Scotland and Kurdistan, including most recently a visit in July by a large Kurdish business delegation headed by the KRG’s Trade Minister Sinan Celebi and Municipalities and Tourism Minister Samir Abdullah.