EU Foreign Ministers Impressed by Progress in Kurdistan

“In previous years the biggest threat facing Iraq was terrorism, but today the biggest threat is a return to dictatorship. Authoritarian rule and the return of dictatorship are the main reasons behind the current political crisis,” he said.

Also discussed in the meeting was the situation in Syria, with particular emphasis on the current role that the Kurdish people are playing with the Syrian Opposition. 7000-8000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the Kurdistan Region since the uprisings began and they are currently being supported by UNHCR and the KRG. The European Foreign Ministers were in Lebanon prior to arriving in Iraq and part of their trip was focused on hearing the views of Syria’s neighbours on the situation there.

Commenting on the situation there, President Barzani said: “The position of the KRG towards Syria is very clear, we are supportive of the aspirations of the Syrian people, we are supportive of a democratic alternative, and we condemn the killings that are happening in Syria. However, the future of Syria is something that will be decided by the people of Syria.”

Minister Mladenov said that the meeting was very productive, highlighting their discussion about Syria as the main focus of their trip. “We were initially in Lebanon and then we came to Baghdad and today we are in Erbil to discuss the situation in Syria and hear the views from the neighbours of Syria,” he said.

The three ministers will report on their trip to Kurdistan and Iraq and present it in a meeting to all the foreign ministers in the Council on Foreign Affairs of the European Union. They expressed their pleasure at being the first European delegation to visit the Kurdistan Region and Iraq since the signing of a partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) between the EU and Iraq on 11 May 2012. The new agreement will allow clarification of trade agreements and facilitate discussions on a number of areas, including commercial, economic and political matters, such as countering terrorism and promoting human rights.

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