What have been the greatest successes achieved diplomatically in recent years, and how do you see Kurdistan's regional and global foreign policy evolving over the long term? The KRG has been able to work according to a clear objective of what it wants to achieve and where it is headed. The KRG is committed to certain principles, values and goals that connect it to the outside world. The clear vision of the leadership and their commitment to good governance, openness and interaction with the international community has helped a great deal in building bridges. We benefit from our past and our tragic history of the people of Kurdistan and translate this into prosperity for the future. All these factors meant that the KRG was able to gradually expand its ties with the international community.
Interaction with partners helped participation in the international arena. First, we looked at friendly nations around the world as partners. We tried to build strong relations and ties so that we work in partnership on two main fronts, within and outside Kurdistan Region. We encourage nations to open diplomatic missions which play a role in enhancing our ties with the countries represented locally. Through the KRG offices abroad, we try to sustain and further develop ties with the countries the offices are located in.
The fight against ISIL and the role Peshmerga play have helped a great deal in promoting the case of Kurdistan. The history of the Kurds led to our open door policy, we welcomed 250,000 refugees from Syria and 1.5 million internally displaced persons from the rest of Iraq, which has given us attention and appreciation of the international community. Our firm belief and practice of sectarian, religious and national tolerance has helped the case of Kurdistan internationally. The KRG uses public, energy, commercial and social diplomacy to deepen ties.
How would you characterize the KRG’s diplomatic cooperation with the international community against the Yazidi Genocide? The KRG leadership, party officials, civil society and the media all play a role in mobilizing international support for the recognition of the Yezidi Genocide. The KRG strongly believes in peaceful coexistence, tolerance and equal rights of all communities living in Kurdistan, as we are all equal partners in this country. The Kurds have been oppressed in the past, have been treated as second class citizens and therefore understand the situation and pain of the Yezidi Kurds. We are determined to ensure they are treated with respect and dignity, and that their rights are guaranteed and protected.
The tragedy that has befallen on the Yezidi Kurds truly was genocide. Therefore, the KRG explored different ways to highlight their case to try to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crimes to justice. The DFR wrote to the embassies in Baghdad and the diplomatic missions residing in Kurdistan Region so they can report back to the ministries of their respective countries. In addition, the DFR wrote letters to over 30 foreign ministers to ensure the genocide of the Yezidis was illustrated in 2015 UN General Assembly speeches. During bilateral meetings that take place in and outside Kurdistan, the plight of the Yezidis and the recognition of the genocide are raised, as well as during international conferences.
The Yezidi case is high on the agenda and the DFR puts a lot of effort into meeting the needs of the Yezidi Kurds. A special consular session for the diplomatic missions was organized to address the needs to stabilize and rebuild Sinjar, and to recognize the crimes committed as acts of genocide. The government has successfully attempted to rescue captives and provide care once they have reached safety in Kurdistan.
The DFR developed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Baden-Wurttemberg and Lower Saxony to send female survivors to Germany for rehabilitation. There are ongoing talks with various stakeholders on how to help rebuild trust between the local communities of the liberated areas, while a KRG ministerial committee is continuously working on documenting the crimes to help the case at the International Criminal Court.
Kurdistan currently hosts over 1.8 million refugees and IDPs. The KRG provides humanitarian assistance to the refugees and IDPs, and the KRG even made it one of the main pillars of its policy. What steps does the DFR take to create more awareness on the refugees and IDPs in the international arena? This crisis is not the sole responsibility of one institution of the KRG. In fact, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Planning, as well as the Joint Crisis Coordination Center (JCC) are working together. We are trying to coordinate with the relevant KRG authorities to provide us with the information to communicate the right message to the outside world. International conferences also provide us the opportunity to raise awareness.
During all consular corps meetings, we stress on the humanitarian crisis and further assistance. We ask for more support from donor countries, our friends and allies in the international community, the United Nations agencies and international NGOs. The KRG representatives abroad have been tasked to continue working with governments, parliaments, civil societies, humanitarian organizations and the media to convey our message which states that Kurdistan is proud to host this large number, but that we require more help. This is a shared responsibility and members of the international community must come forward to help us meet the needs locally and ensure a live with respect and dignity for these people.
It is a source of pride for the KRG to welcome this large number of refugees and IDPs, regardless of their ethnicity or religious background. We understand that resources are scarce and needs are huge, therefore, we have taken measures to ensure that what comes in, is well spent. The establishment of the JCC was a key step forward to ensure good coordination and follow up. Despite the economic and financial challenges, the door remains open and we are proud that we have been able to manage the situation and contain any tensions from developing between the host and guest communities.
What are the DFR's strategies and priorities to increase the exposure of Kurdistan to the global business community? Thanks to the dedication of our people, the vigilance and sacrifices of our Peshmerga and security forces, we have been able to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Kurdistan still is an island of stability and prosperity. People are friendly, the society is welcoming and the government is supportive.
In our efforts to overcome the challenges, in cooperation with UNAMI and the G7 countries, we are focusing on good governance, transparency and diversifying our sources of economic revenue. By ensuring stability, security and openness, we are able to offer an attractive example. We are reaching out on various levels to countries, companies and institutions to encourage them to come and partner with the KRG. Especially since the humanitarian and security challenges that we are facing are the responsibility of the entire world. We want to raise the understanding that helping the Kurdistan Region economically will help us win the costly war against ISIL and help us provide the needs of IDPs and refugees.
We ask of our friends in the international community to continue working with us to encourage their companies to participate in international trade fairs and invest in Kurdistan.