As part of his visit to Sweden last week, the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa conducted a number of meetings at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There he met with Ms. Ann-Sofie Nilsson, the Director General of International Development Cooperation, Ambassador Reid Bari, the Head of the Middle East and North Africa Department and Ambassador Jan Thesleff, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Syrian affairs.The KRG Representative to Sweden, Mr. Herish Khola, accompanied Minister Mustafa in the meetings.
During the meeting with Ms. Ann-Sofie Nilsson, Minister Mustafa briefed her about the latest developments in Kurdistan with particular emphasis on the current plight of the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan, emphasizing the desperate needs of those refugees and saying: “We call upon the international community to do more and hope to see an increase in the number of NGO’s assisting the refugees in Kurdistan in addition to the UN agencies there.”
Ms. Nilsson emphasized Sweden’s continuous support for the Kurdistan Region, stressing the need to work together in helping further developing the Kurdish community. Regarding the Syrian refugees, Ms. Nilsson discussed ways in which the plight of the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan can be improved and noted that Sweden is one of the largest contributors to the United Nations in the international community and can play a major role in helping the refugees, stating, “Humanitarian aid is our priority along with women’s rights and we all need to contribute together to help ensure that aid reaches the people who need it most.”
In the meeting with the Head of the Middle East and North Africa Department at the Ministry, several issues were also discussed ranging from the current status of the relationship to how this relationship can be further improved. Minister Mustafa expressed his pleasure at the current level of relations between both sides, highlighting that the needs of the Kurdistan Region are opportunities for the international community and Sweden in particular.
Ambassador Bari said, “We want to diversify the relationship and your KRG Representative Office here should be the motor to help make this happen.” He spoke about how Sweden values its relationship with Kurdistan and how they wish to work with all of Iraq and given Kurdistan’s security and stability, it is an ideal gateway for the rest of Iraq.
Also at the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Minister Mustafa met with Ambassador Jan Thesleff, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Syrian affairs. The two sides mainly spoke of the Syrian crisis and the plight of the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan with Minister Mustafa stating, “We currently have over 250,000 refugees from Syria in Kurdistan and our resources are limited.”
Ambassador Thesleff said that Sweden was deeply worried about the deteriorating security situation in Syria as well as the Syrian refugee crisis and its ramifications on the whole region, promising Sweden’s ongoing assistance to the Syrian refugees, which is being done through international organizations.