Kurdistan Region's deputy PM: Greece and Kurdistan Region need to form a strategic relationship

  2022-04-10 00:20      442 View Count        Comment

The Kurdistan Region's deputy PM, Qubad Talabani, participated in the Delphi Economic Forum in Greece at the head of a delegation from KRG officials.

During the forum, Qubad Talabani touched on relations between Greece and the Kurdistan Region and said that the two sides need to form a strategic relationship.

"Greece and the Kurdistan Region need to immediately develop a strategic relationship, tackling common challenges and common opportunities, I can't believe we left it so late to start this dialogue," Talabani said during the forum.

Talabani also pointed out during a speech he gave at the forum that global challenges cannot be solved individually but must be worked on collectively.

"The global problems don't just affect individual countries, everyone talks about climate change, I am from Kurdistan...we are not an industrialized nation, we are not the cause of climate change but we are impacted by climate change, our environment has been impacted by climate change... just a few days ago in Kurdistan, we had the most severe sand storms... the worst we had for decades," he said.

"We didn't contribute to climate change... we are impacted by it," he added.

The deputy PM also highlighted Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine as a key factor in the aggravation of the current economic crisis that has far-reaching implications way beyond that of solely oil, extending to the food market as global food prices have reached an all-time high.

Talabani stated that while the world is focused on the Russian-Ukrainian war, Iraq is "still locked in crisis, still locked in war, whether it's political war or cold war, or sometimes a physical war with missiles and bombs," as he noted the parliament's failure to form a government 7 months after early elections were held in October.

"The fact that the world is focused on the bigger issue is understandable, but we must not forget the issues such as Iraq," he added.

"Yes I am from Kurdistan, comparatively more stable than Iraq, more developing than the rest of Iraq, it is more prosperous perhaps you can say than the rest of Iraq, but we are facing our challenges too, we are facing challenges like financial crisis from budget cuts from Baghdad, we too are recovering from a pandemic like the rest of the world, we have our issues of our citizens seeking illegal migration to Europe, we face many many challenges," he said.

Talabani also talked about corruption and stated that most of the challenges facing the governments are issues of governance.

"Corruption is a killer for government, is a killer for societies, and it is a killer for governance but corruption breeds when there is an environment that is conducive to corruption, an environment that allows for corruption to grow... but corruption isn't permissible it doesn't live in areas of good governance in good process, in a transparent process," he said.

He also indicated that governance is about developing sectors. An overreliance on oil is also an issue that needs tackling according to Talabani. The deputy PM addressed the Kurdistan Region's unused potential in the tourism industry.

"If we can manage our tourism sector better than we're doing now if we partnered with experts... we can have a thriving industry that gets us away from the curse of oil," he said.

He also talked about developing other sectors such as agriculture and energy to be able to provide for not only the local market but a much wider market.

"We have an enormous land, untapped land that with the right strategies, the right policies, with the right expertise, could not only provide food for the local market of Kurdistan which is 6 million, or the local market of Iraq which is 40 million but could potentially provide food for a much wider market and could mitigate the damage the wars caused. Russia- Ukraine will not be the last war that we will see in our lifetime when you have alternative sources whether its food, whether its energy, you can mitigate the damage caused by these wars," he said.

Answering a question regarding whether Kurdistan can contribute to resolving Europe gas issues, Talabani said:

"We in Kurdistan are sitting on one of the largest untabbed gas reserves in the world no doubt that Kurdish gas can contribute to alleviating the many problems that the world faces with gas shortages but for this to happen for this to materialize, many things need to happen first and foremost the political dispute between Baghdad and Kurdistan, the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government on energy on oil on gas... we need to resolve this."

He also talked about the decree by Iraq's top court against the Kurdish oil and gas industry, where he emphasized that it is an "opportunity" for Erbil to settle differences with Baghdad and improve relations "once and for all.

Talabani pointed out that the Kurdistan Region cannot directly send oil to Europe, because there is Turkey, there are Iraqi governments, and Europe, and the problems must be solved on a larger level.

On the sidelines of the forum, the deputy PM also met Greek officials, including the Greek Minister of Development and Investment, Greek Minister of Agriculture, Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, and the head of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).



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