How would you characterize the current bilateral ties between Italy and the Kurdistan Region?
The exponential growth of the economy of the Kurdistan Region has attracted more and more Italian entrepreneurs. Italy is among the Kurdistan’s biggest trading partners, and many Italian companies are successfully operating in the fields of engineering, infrastructure, and tourism. Both the Italian government and Italian entrepreneurs have shown a keen interest in investing in the Kurdistan Region. Several memorandums of understanding were signed with the Italian regions, such as the Veneto Region and the Region of Lombardy, with the aim of facilitating and strengthening bilateral relations on various levels, and we hope to soon sign other MOUs with other Italian Regions. In addition to the agreements between the regions, MOUs were also signed between several Italian and Kurdish universities introducing cultural exchanges, and in order to help new generations of Kurdish graduates develop their skills with precious Italian know-how.

Furthermore, we aim to organize an economic forum in Kurdistan in order to introduce Italian businessmen to local partners and ongoing projects. In turn, in collaboration with ANCE, the National Association of Builders, we will organize an Italy- Kurdistan economic forum in Erbil.

I also would like to underline that the KRG Representation in Italy provides full assistance to Italian entrepreneurs who request information about investment opportunities in Kurdistan and if they decide to register their companies at the local chambers of commerce, we facilitate the authentication of documents of the company by sending them to the relevant Kurdish authorities. Successful examples include the FG Tecnopolo who designed the metro network in the city of Erbil, Duhok and Suleimania, Studio Galli, Impregilo, and Ansaldo, operating mainly in the field of infrastructure.

We aim to organize an economic forum in Kurdistan in order to introduce Italian businessmen to local partners and ongoing projects. In turn, in collaboration with ANCE, the National Association of Builders, we will organize an Italy- Kurdistan economic forum in Erbil.

Clearly, we recognize the presence of around 2 million refugees and IDPs in the Kurdistan Region and that the KRG’s valiant Peshmerga forces are fully engaged in the management of the humanitarian crisis and in the fight against ISIS. However, I can say with certainty that despite the current difficulties that the Kurdistan Region is experiencing due to ISIS’ terrorism, Italian business will always be a source of interest for the Kurdish government thanks to its high-level of know-how. I therefore believe that bilateral relations between Italy and the Kurdistan Region should be intensified in all fields, since Italy has always been and continues to be a good friend and a strong supporter of the people of Kurdistan.

Have you noticed any misconceptions among members of the Italian business community with regard to the security situation in the Kurdistan Region?
Frankly, I have not noticed any misunderstandings among members of the Italian business community with respect to the security situation in the Kurdistan Region. Kurdistan has always been considered an oasis of peace in the Middle East, as well as being the gateway to the rest of Iraq. We have always preserved the security of our region. For this reason, and due to the significant investment opportunities offered by the Kurdistan Region, Italian investments have grown steadily in the Kurdistan Region. We have strong ties with Italy and would like to diversify our relationship at all levels.