Kurdistan Region President Addresses EU Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee
WED, 22 JAN 2014 14:43 | KRP.org
Brussels, Belgium (KRP.org) – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani today addressed a special meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Union’s Parliament in Brussels.
In an event attended by a large number of MEPs, in his address the President talked about the latest political and security developments in Iraq, in Kurdistan and in the wider region.
He called on the EU parliament to show solidarity with the people of Kurdistan and called on them to help seek recognition of the crimes against the Kurdistan people in Iraq as crimes of genocide. He said, “We would like you to show solidarity with the rights of the people of Kurdistan. We also call on you to expend all your efforts to recognize the genocide against our people.”
The President attributed the relative stability and security in Kurdistan, to the policy of tolerance and peaceful co-existence between the various religious and ethnic communities in Kurdistan.
“In the aftermath of the 1991 March uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan, we did not set out seek revenge against the people who oppressed us. Again, after the fall of the regime in 2003, we did not take resort to revenge against anyone. We opened a new chapter with our own people and with others, and this greatly helped us focus our efforts on rebuilding our country and lessen the pains and suffering of our people. As a result of this policy, the Kurdistan Region enjoys a high degree of security and stability,” said the President.
Following the President’s address, a number of MEPs posed questions to the President, and they all hailed the important progress that Kurdistan has made in the areas of security, stability, and economic development. They particularly commended President Barzani’s leadership and the KRG for their generous policy of hosting large numbers of refugees and the religious tolerance that prevails in Kurdistan.
Full text of the address delivered by the President:
First, I would like to thank the EU Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee for inviting us here today. There is no doubt that the EU has an extremely important role to play and there is considerable potential for cooperation in many areas between the EU and Federal Iraqi Government as well as the KRG, particularly in economic and trade interest. As you are aware there is an agreement between the EU and the Iraqi Federal government, We hope the KRG will have a role to play within the framework of this agreement, to bring closer together the EU and our country, and the EU parliament and the Kurdistan Region.
I would like to here today to just briefly you of the tragic situation of the people of Kurdistan. They have suffered because of a number of hostile campaigns aimed at them in Iraq. We have been victims of chemical weapons and the infamous Anfal campaign in which 182,000 people disappeared, of which we have only been able to recover the remains of about 4,000 of them from mass graves across the southern Iraqi deserts. The search continues for the remaining victims. In the chemical attack on Halabja, in the space of just a few minutes, 5,000 innocent civilians, mostly women and children, were gassed to death.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We in the Kurdistan Region have adopted the policy of tolerance and peaceful co-existence and the accepting of each other. In the aftermath of the 1991 March uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan, we did not set out seek revenge against the people who oppressed us. Again, after the fall of the regime in 2003, we did not take resort to revenge against anyone. We opened a new chapter with our own people and with others, and this greatly helped us focus our efforts on rebuilding our country and lessen the pains and suffering of our people. As a result of this policy, the Kurdistan Region enjoys a high degree of security and stability. This has also helped many international companies from different countries to come to invest in Kurdistan. As a simple example, before 2003, per capita income in Kurdistan was less than 500 US dollars; now it is more than 5000 US dollars. We are at the beginning of the road in building democratic institutions, and we need your help and expertise to build these institutions. We would like you to show solidarity with the rights of the people of Kurdistan. We also call on you to expend all your efforts to recognize the genocide against our people. We also would like you to work with the relevant parties to establish an EU representation office in the Kurdistan Region, which would help enhancing economic ties between Kurdistan and the EU countries.
We would also like to urge you to support the political process in Iraq on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution and democracy and federalism, and in the fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, terrorism has become a dangerous phenomenon targeting all the peoples of the world. We ourselves have suffered a great deal from terrorism, but we are steadfast in our fight against it, as there is no other way in dealing with terrorism.
We have adopted the policy of tolerance and religious freedom. Women in Kurdistan play their role in building our society and institutions. We now host 250,000 Syrian refugees, mostly Kurds, but there are Arabs and Christina among them too. We are also hosting 200,000 Iraqi Arabs from center and south of the country, who fled to Kurdistan from threat of terrorism and in search of security. There are now 10,000 Christian families who have also fled from other parts of Iraq. In addition to this, some 15,000 people from the Anbar province have fled to Kurdistan.
We are proud of the fact that Kurdistan has become a haven for so many people. However, I must point out that the assistance from the international community for these refugees has not been in par with the assistance provided to refugees in other countries in the region.
As a factor of stability, we in the Kurdistan Region will continue with our policy and do all we can with other Iraqi groups to resolve our problems and to build the institutions of the state. We reiterate our commitment to the Iraqi Constitution. Once again, I would like to ask you for your support and assistance. Thank you very much.