Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, on Sunday hosted a meeting with the diplomatic corps and other foreign representatives to reflect on and discuss key events in 2012.
Minister Bakir reflected on the growing diplomatic presence in Kurdistan as a testament of its successful outreach policy with the international community.
Several new diplomats have arrived in the region this year, including diplomats from Romania, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and the Palestinian Authority. Also this year, Sweden opened its embassy office in Erbil.
During the meeting Minister Bakir provided a detailed account of the KRG's position on political developments in Iraq, including the recent military build-up in the disputed territories. He said, “The Kurds have played a leading role in building the new Iraq. We did everything we could to help the political process succeed but it is not going the way we envisioned.”
He added that the international community has a moral obligation to assist the country through the transitional stage.
“We want a better future for Iraq and we want to see a democratic country governed by the constitution. We want to have a meaningful participation in managing this country, and the new year should be used to put it on the path of genuine reform,” he said.
Minister Bakir stressed that the Iraqi military should not be used to promote the political aims of one group over others and called for the implementation of previous political agreements and the Iraqi Constitution. The Kurdistan Region is committed to dialogue and peaceful means but at the same time is not ready to surrender to military pressure, he said.
As Dean of the Consular Corps in Erbil, the Iranian Consul General, Seyed Azim Hossaini, hailed another successful year and expressed his appreciation for the initiative to reflect on key events in 2012. He said, “Considering the historic relationship between Iraq and Iran, we are ready to help for the future of Iraq, [however] the problems can only be solved by Iraqis.”
The Turkish Consul General, Aydin Selcen, said that his government is a ‘friend and partner’ of Iraq. He said, “We are a committed to a free, pluralistic, democratic and federal Iraq as according to the Iraqi Constitution. We encourage you to resolve differences through peaceful and political means, and we stand ready to help and facilitate these discussions.”
Other diplomats echoed these sentiments and welcomed the cooperative relationships between the consular corps and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The Acting US Consul General, Timothy Pounds said, “We also appreciate and are grateful for all that you and the leadership have done to help make this democratic experience as a success.” He added that the US recognises the challenges Iraq has faced since 2003 and urged all parties to remain engaged in the political process.
Minister Bakir also discussed the plight of the Syrian Kurdish refugees and their needs in the Kurdistan Region, and urged the international community for help.
Wishing them a happy New Year, Minister Bakir thanked the diplomats for their support and contribution and hoped for continued cooperation in 2013.