PM Barzani begins his European visit by meeting with Prime Minister of the Netherlands
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, and his accompanying delegation, arrived in the Netherlands on Monday in their first stop in a tour of Europe to meet with senior officials in several countries.
Their first meeting is with the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.
The KRG’s representative to the European Union (EU), Delawar Azhgaye, said in a press statement that Barzani and Rutte will meet on Monday evening to discuss relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Netherlands.
The Netherlands established a consulate general in Erbil in 2014 and it is a member of the US-led Coalition against ISIS.
“Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Monday morning headed to Europe to meet with senior European officials to discuss the benefits of increased trade with the Kurdistan Region and to strengthen diplomatic ties,” a statement on the KRG website read.
According to the statement, Prime Minister Barzani will lead a government delegation visiting a number of European countries as part of “the Kurdistan Regional Government’s roadmap to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment.”
Azhgaye added that the work program of the KRG’s ninth cabinet “stresses the consolidation of foreign relations and further development of ties.”
The Dutch Prime Minister is a strong figure in the EU, the Kurdish representative explained, and the Netherlands has a significant role and influence on its decisions.
He also noted the political and military cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and the Netherlands, including Dutch support for the Peshmerga forces in the war against ISIS.
Azhgaye explained that the KRG delegation includes the Minister of Planning and the Head of the Investment Authority. The composition of the delegation reflects the strong desire of the Kurdistan Region to develop ties in those areas with the Netherlands and other European countries, he said.
He also recalled the position of the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, during the air and political blockade that the government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi imposed on the Kurdistan Region, following Baghdad’s 2017 attack on Peshmerga forces in a military operation directed by Qasim Soleimani, head of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, later assassinated by US forces.
Azhgaye explained that in those difficult times, Rutte offered important support to the Kurds and called publicly on Baghdad to lift the siege that it had arbitrarily imposed.
The Kurdish representative also noted the proximity of the Kurdistan Region to Europe. Europeans, themselves, consider geopolitics—i.e. the political geography of the region—to be of crucial importance and recognize that events in the region often impact them.
Indeed, the problems of the Middle East—including those caused by ISIS—regularly produce large refugee flows, generating issues concerning their integration into European societies, including terrorism.
Thus, Europeans generally believe that it is much to their advantage to promote political stability and economic development in the area. That includes developing relations with the Kurdistan Region in various economic fields, including industry, energy, and agriculture.
Editing by Laurie Mylroie