Deputy Prime Minister Emad Ahmad Sayfour this week in Madrid met with Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Manuel García-Margallo. The meeting marked the first official visit by the Deputy Prime Minister to Spain.
In their meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad said:
"This is the first Kurdistan Regional Government mission to Spain and we are pleased to be here in order to bolster our political, cultural and economic relations with Spain."
Foreign Minister García-Margallo said:
"I'm honoured to receive the Deputy Prime Minister and his delegation and that he is willing to assist in building and strengthening the relations between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Spain."
They discussed the possibility of opening a Spanish consulate in Erbil, as Mr Ahmad advised that this move would further strengthen ties between the two nations. Mr Garcia-Margallo agreed that relations between the Kurdistan Region and Spain need to be increased, and he was enthusiastic about building and enhancing political, cultural and economic relations. Spain recently appointed an Honorary Consul in Erbil.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad said that he wishes to begin cooperation on the training of civil servants from the Kurdistan Region. Mr Garcia-Margallo said there may be a possibility of Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID), assisting with such training.
Mr Ahmad also raised the issue of international recognition of the Kurdish genocide. He pointed to efforts that have been made by other parliaments in the European Union, such as the UK and Sweden, to recognize the Anfal campaign by Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist government as genocide. He raised the idea of the Spanish parliament following other European countries. Mr Garcia-Margallo assured Mr Ahmad that he is ready to assist in bringing the issue to the Spanish parliament.
They also discussed the current political crisis in Iraq. The Deputy Prime Minister briefed Minister Garcia-Margallo about the position that the Kurdish leadership has taken as a result of the federal Iraqi government's actions towards Iraq as a whole and towards Kurdistan in particular.
At the close of the meeting, Mr Ahmad invited the Foreign Minister to the Kurdistan Region to see for himself the political, economic and security situation, thanking him for receiving the delegation in Spain.
Mr Ahmad was accompanied to the meeting by the KRG Minister of Planning, Dr Ali Sindi; the Head of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir; the Iraqi Ambassador to Spain, Dr Ziyad Khalid; and the KRG Representative to Spain, Mr Daban Shadala.