‘Kurdistan Region is safe and secure and has a lot to offer tourists’: Czech CG
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Karel Kortánek, the Czech Republic’s Consul General to Erbil, discussed bilateral ties between his country and the Kurdistan Region and several other topics in this interview with Kurdistan 24.
“Our consulate had a positive role enhancing cultural ties with the Kurdistan Region and we have held cultural events and music concerts in the past,” Kortánek told Kurdistan 24.
“Also, we are planning to have a Czech folklore music concert in the beginning of Fall.”
He said that he is in Erbil to “take some practical steps forward to strengthen the economic and cultural relations between my country and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).”
He explained that some Czech companies left the Kurdistan Region as a result of the threat posed by ISIS and later the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to work together with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to convince those companies to come back and to even bring more companies to the KRI,” he said.
Kortánek revealed that his Consulate General is going to hold the ‘Czech Business Day’ in Erbil in Fall 2022 to provide an opportunity for Kurdish and Czechian companies and investors to meet and build solid trade and business relations.
He pointed out that the Czech consulate has been active through some projects in the Kurdistan Region’s health and education sectors that include renovating a number of schools and equipping several maternity hospitals.
He affirmed that his consulate plans to continue with such projects in the autonomous region.
“We want to bring standard academic freedom and a European standard of education to the students of the Kurdistan Region.”
“I am glad that many Kurdish people are familiar with the Czech Republic,” he said. “When they see me, they tell me: ‘Oh, I have been to Prague, it is a wonderful city.’ This makes me feel that there is a connection here.”
Kortánek told Kurdistan 24 that Palacky University is a Czech University that has a campus in Erbil.
“The idea behind this is to bring standard academic freedom and a European standard of education to the students of the Kurdistan Region,” he said. “It is a good opportunity for the Kurdish students to have an open gate to the world.”
“The Kurdistan Region is safe and secure and it has a lot to offer to tourists.”
Kortánek also believes that there is “so much potential” for tourism in the Kurdistan Region.
“There are many opportunities on which we can work together to develop this sector,” he said. “The Kurdistan Region is safe and secure and it has a lot to offer tourists such as mountains, amazing landscapes, and historical, religious, and natural attractions.”
He revealed that he has held meetings with the KRG’s Board and Tourism and that “we are trying to have some practical steps in this regard.”
“The Czech Consulate would be honored to work together with KRG to develop the touristic sites and attractions.”
Kortánek also said that he is “so grateful for the safety and security here in Erbil that is provided by the KRG law enforcement forces; they are doing a great job.”
“I have been to some places and I see that the Kurdistan Region has so many beautiful places,” he said.
On the other hand, Kortánek said he was upset to see so many touristic places in the region covered with trash. He stressed that to attract tourists from around the world, the Kurdistan Region’s various attractions need cleaning.
“In this regard, the Czech Consulate would be honored to work together with the KRG to develop touristic sites and attractions,” he said.
Kortánek also said that he likes Kurdish food and tea and also looks forward “to knowing more about the Kurdish people and learning about their culture, history, and heritage.”
“Erbil is amazing!” he exclaimed. “And people in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are so kind.”
“I see their hospitality every day.”
Additional reporting by Ayoub Mohammed