Canada has a robust relationship with the Kurdistan Region: Ambassador
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Iraq Gregory Galligan told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday on the sidelines of the MERI Forum that Canada has a good relationship with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Moreover, he said Canada has had a large humanitarian program supporting the Kurdistan Regional Government.
“We really appreciate what they've (the KRG) done to take in refugee populations and to support minority rights in the region,” he said. I said "we've had" so I just want to get the timing right by adding "had" in the sense of the program responded to the Daesh humanitarian crisis
“Canada has a very well established relationship with the Kurdistan region of Iraq. I was very grateful to get to meet the Prime Minister (Masrour Barzani) the other day where we talked a lot about our bilateral relationship,” Ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Iraq Gregory Galligan, told Kurdistan 24.
“We've been on the ground here and we've had an office here since 2014. And we promote all aspects of our relationship, whether it's security cooperation with the Peshmerga, trade and investment,” he added.
Moreover, he said Canada has a large humanitarian program supporting the Kurdistan Regional Government. “We really appreciate what they've (the KRG) done to take in refugee populations and to support minority rights in the region,” he said.
“And we want to continue to build on that relationship, whether it's expanding now to look at issues like climate change and green technology and agriculture but we have a very robust relationship and we're very proud of it.”
Oil and gas legislation
The Canadian Ambassador Galligan also said that he hopes there will be new hydrocarbon legislation in Baghdad. “So that it can create a more friendly investor climate that will encourage Canadian companies and other foreign companies to return to KRG and in greater volumes.”
PM Masrour Barzani on Tuesday called for the legislating of a hydrocarbon law in Iraq that could serve as a framework for cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad. Baghdad and Erbil had several disputes over oil and gas and although previously draft oil and gas laws were suggested, no oil and gas law was ever passed since 2005.
“I think wherever there is uncertainty and the investor climate has an impact on foreign investors,” he said.
“I think Canadians as a people are sort of risk averse. I mean, certainly in the hydrocarbon sector, it's a very large market, but the capital costs associated with developing projects are significant and so unless there's a degree of investor certainty, it will inevitably have an impact on you know, how far companies are willing to invest and what kind of risks are willing to take.”
However, he said this is a priority for the government in Baghdad and also for officials in the KRG.
Kurdistan Region’s elections
Moreover, the Canadian Ambassador said the delay in the democratic process (in the Kurdistan Region) creates a concern.
The Kurdistan Parliament earlier this month extended its legislative term by a year after the political parties failed to hold the sixth parliamentary elections in Oct. 1 this year, a date set by the Region’s President Nechirvan Barzani in February.
“We know that there are ongoing negotiations that UNAMI is working with political parties in the Kurdistan Region,” Canadian Ambassador Galligan. “We know that the decision to extend the parliament was taken in parliament. So in that sense, you know, it's working through its own process and there's been previous delays.”
“Obviously, we want to see progress on the election law. I think that's really what we should focus on now and we hope that in the coming months, we'll see a sort of plan developed a Kurdish plan that can move forward in terms of getting things ready to proceed not just with a new election law, but the actual staging the event of an election, and hopefully we'll see a date before the end of next year, but that remains up to Kurdish politicians to announce.”
Violations of sovereignty
On Sept 28, Iran bombed Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in the Kurdistan Region with 73 missiles and dozens of drones. During the attack at least 14 people were killed and nearly 60 others were wounded.
The Canadian government strongly condemned the attack. “Any violation of Iraq's sovereignty is a concern. Of course, I was here in March of this year when the Iranian government launched I think 16 ballistic missiles towards Erbil,” Ambassador Galligan said.
“We condemn that act at the time and we continue to condemn any acts of aggression from a neighboring country towards Iraq, particularly the types of attacks we've seen targeting Iranian Kurdish refugee populations in Koya,” he added. “It's all highly troubling and we'll continue to call it out.”
Since the Ninth Cabinet assumed office in 2019, the KRG has worked on economic reforms and the digitization of government services to facilitate people’s work and reduce bureaucracy.
Ambassador Galligan also said that Canada supports economic reforms. “Reforms take time to be implemented,” he said. However, he said often they take time to be felt. “We think that some of the e-governance reforms are quite progressive and very interesting and we know that that needs to keep going.”
“I think there's a real commitment here towards greater digitization and that's positive and hopefully that will help to sort of impact some of the reforms we're looking for in terms of anti corruption and accountability.”