What would you say are the driving forces behind Kurdistan’s success story?
Two of the most important factors behind this success are the stability and security that exist in the Kurdistan Region. Without these twin forces, we would have found it impossible to achieve the level of development that we currently enjoy. I believe another critical component for our ongoing stability and security is the culture of coexistence, tolerance, and acceptance that has been established in the Region.
You issued a statement that underlined your commitment to defending the democratic rights of the Kurdish people. How would you assess the progress that Kurdistan has made in terms of democracy?
We have already discussed the importance of stability and security, but I believe that perhaps the greatest success of the Kurdistan Region is the fact that our democratic system has flourished.
As a result of the uprising in 1991, for the first time ever, the people were able to liberate all of the Kurdistan Region from the oppressive institutions of the former regime. In March of that year, I gave a speech in Koya in which I declared that the era of armed revolution was over. Instead, I asked the people of the Region to embrace the concept of free elections. Only by instituting such democratic processes would we be able to establish both our constitutional legitimacy and our governing institutions. It was clear then that the people needed to be the source of the decisions concerning the future of the Region. From that point, we were able to establish the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Kurdistan Regional Parliament (KRP), and numerous other governmental institutions and offices. Of course, there were deficiencies in this process, as there are with any new government. However, most importantly, the democratic process was established as the guiding principle of the Kurdistan Region. I believe that we now have standing in the international community as a result of this belief.
How do you assess Kurdistan’s energy potential in terms of becoming a key player in the region?
We are in the early stages of the process. The Kurdistan Region is rich in natural resources, particularly in regard to its large deposits of minerals, oil, and natural gas. According to the Iraqi constitution, it is our right to benefit from these resources. Therefore, we currently have many of the major oil companies working here. We are committed to the contracts that have been signed and we are strongly supporting their implementation. As I said, we are at the beginning of this development. However, I believe that there are obvious signs that the future of the Region is bright.
How essential are collaborative efforts between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government of Iraq in order to combat common regional challenges?
Coordination and cooperation between the federal government and the KRG is of fundamental importance, and this extends to numerous bilateral issues. We live in a challenging part of the world, and a lack of coordination and cooperation could easily produce negative consequences. Certainly, there will be new developments and complex challenges within the region, and the strength of this relationship will play a vital role in our ability to address them. Both the federal government and the KRG are hoping for a positive future, and our being able to tackle unexpected obstacles together will ensure that both sides will benefit as a result.
We warmly welcome the members of the global investment community, and want them to know that the future of the Kurdistan Region is bright and open to their involvement.
How would you categorize the Region’s political and economic relations with the GCC countries?
The Kurdistan Region has strong, open relations with the Gulf countries. We firmly believe that we can benefit from the experience of others, so we welcome political and economic relations with these countries, as well as the rest of the global community. The Region has high potential for development, and foreign expertise will be essential in allowing us to achieve our goals.
What is the administration doing to ensure the Region remains a stable area of operations for the global business community?
We live in a region that is constantly changing, and it is impossible to predict future developments or their potential outcomes. So, from the very beginning, we believed the only way to remain strong and stable was to create solid democratic foundations. We established free and fair elections and instituted the concept of a peaceful transfer of power via the ballet box. It was and still is the people of the Region who decide what leader deserves to be in power, rather than one individual holding permanent authority. As a result of this dedication to democracy, we created institutions predicated on both the constitution and the rule of law. We believe that, as a result of all of these efforts, we have established a system that will guarantee that we remain stable and secure in the face of an ever-changing world. As a result, both the culture and the people of Kurdistan will never allow for terrorism, violence, or extremism to establish footholds in the Region.
Kurdistan has been forging strong economic ties with the world’s largest economic powers. How would you characterize Kurdistan’s regional and global vision in terms of continuing to improve medium-term political and economic relations?
Our strategy is one of openness, and extends to any and all countries that are interested in developing relations with the Kurdistan Region. Among the countries that have already done so, Turkey is certainly very important to us. It is both our neighbor and a developing country, so we have many things in common. This relationship further reflects the idea that the modern world is based on mutual interests, particularly those relating to economics. Above all else, economics allows for development and the pursuit of solutions to complex problems. So, in this regard, we are open to every country that seeks to establish both mutual interest and mutual understanding.
What message would you like to convey to the global investment community regarding the future of the Kurdistan Region?
We warmly welcome the members of the global investment community, and want them to know that the future of the Kurdistan Region is bright and open to their involvement. As I said before, we are in the early stages of our development, so there are many opportunities for involvement here in the Region. With that in mind, we invite the global investment community to visit Kurdistan and see what we have to offer.
Both the culture and the people of Kurdistan will never allow for terrorism, violence, or extremism to establish footholds in the Kurdistan Region.