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President Nechirvan Barzani Meets with Austrian President Van der Bellen in Vienna

President Nechirvan Barzani Meets with Austrian President Van der Bellen in Vienna

President Nechirvan Barzani held a meeting with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen in Vienna on July 2 to discuss mutual cooperation and Austria’s relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

Both leaders praised the longstanding history and current state of their relations, highlighting the developments in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. They emphasized the importance of the Erbil-Baghdad dialogue in addressing issues in accordance with the Constitution. Additionally, they discussed federalism and the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region.

President Nechirvan Barzani expressed his appreciation for Austria’s ongoing support and assistance in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, and commended Austria’s preparedness and contribution within the international coalition against ISIS. President Van der Bellen reaffirmed his nation’s unwavering support for the people of Kurdistan and their rights.

The meeting also addressed the status and rights of communities in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Both parties acknowledged the need for the international community to provide assistance to the Yezidis, who have been severely impacted by ISIS.

The discussion, which included the Iraqi Ambassador and the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative in Austria, also centered on the connections between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region with neighboring countries, climate change, and the importance of extensive collaboration to address its threats.

Following his one-day visit to Austria and meeting with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, President Nechirvan Barzani highlighted the purpose and outcomes of his visit and addressed several issues concerning Iraq and the Kurdistan Region during a press conference in Vienna.

President Nechirvan Barzani stated, “As you know, we have a longstanding relationship with Austria that goes back many years. The last time the Austrian Foreign Minister visited the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, he extended an invitation for us to visit Austria. Today, we had a very productive and lengthy meeting with the Foreign Minister. We discussed with both the President and the Foreign Minister how to enhance relations between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. We believe Austria wants to develop this relationship both politically and economically. They have now opened their embassy in Baghdad, and we requested that they open a consulate in Erbil. We expressed our sincere gratitude to President Van der Bellen for his warm welcome today and look forward to seeing these relations flourish and deepen across all areas.”

Regarding the relations between Baghdad and Erbil, the President said, “I believe the relations between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad are at a good level. This does not mean that we have solved all the problems, but our visits to Baghdad—myself, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, and other delegations from the Kurdistan Regional Government—are all part of the combined effort to address these issues and that Baghdad is treating the Kurdistan Region in the same manner. While I do not believe these problems will be solved overnight, the current steps taken by both sides are towards resolving them. We will continue our efforts in the Kurdistan Region to address these problems. Baghdad is our capital, and we must make serious efforts to resolve the issues that affect the lives and welfare of the people of the Kurdistan Region.”

Addressing the investigation into the recent market fires in Erbil, Kirkuk, and Duhok and the subsequent arrests, President Nechirvan Barzani stated, “The arrests were the result of a joint operation between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region, involving the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Interior and security agencies in full coordination with Baghdad. The Kurdistan Region did not act unilaterally. This was a joint effort between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad. Based on what the investigation and what has been said, it is evident that the PKK was behind these incidents in Erbil and Kirkuk. As for the PUK, there is no evidence that the PUK as a party supported these actions. The investigation conducted in Baghdad, which was broadcast on television, revealed that there may be some individuals who are members or were former members. It is a different issue. However, as a political entity, there is no evidence implicating the PUK in these incidents.”

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