President Masoud Barzani this week in Brussels met Belgium’s Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere. He also met European Union officials to discuss expanding relations with its member states.
President Barzani encouraged Foreign Minister Vanackere to move Belgium’s Embassy from Amman to Baghdad and to consider opening a consulate in Erbil. Mr Vanackere commended the political and economic progress in the Kurdistan Region and expressed his country’s desire to have closer ties.
President Barzani also met President of Belgium’s Senate Sabine de Bethune, and of the Chamber of Representatives André Flahaut. They discussed the federal system in both countries, and how Kurdistan's institutions can interact more with those of Belgium.
In his meetings with European Union officials, President Barzani urged EU member states to be more actively engaged in Iraq’s and Kurdistan’s reconstruction process. He asked for more economic and political cooperation, saying that Europe should invest in Kurdistan and play a greater role in Iraq’s democratic and economic progress.
Mr Struan Stevenson MEP described President Barzani’s visit as constructive for EU strategic relations with Iraq and particularly Iraqi Kurdistan, and looked forward to these relations being expanded in future. Mr Stevenson is Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.
President Barzani also met Mr Martin Schulz MEP, the President of the European Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats Group.
The EU representatives said that they hoped for more improvements in Iraq’s human rights and respect for the rights of ethnic minorities and different religions. To this end, Mr Stevenson said that the Kurdistan Region acts as a shining example to the rest of Iraq in its peaceful environment and tolerance of minorities and different religions.
President Barzani was accompanied by RG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami, the President’s Chief of Staff Dr Fuad Hussein, the KRG Head of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, and the KRG Representative to the EU Mr Salim Gravi.