Next step should be honorary consul in Erbil, says Austrian FM

Moreover, he noted that Austrian businesses are willing to invest and build a presence in the Kurdistan Region.
Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg speaking to Kurdistan 24, Sept. 13, 2023. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg speaking to Kurdistan 24, Sept. 13, 2023. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – After arriving in Erbil on Tuesday, Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg on Wednesday met with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani.

“I’m here with a large business delegation to discuss the developments within the country of Iraq and its neighboring countries. We should talk more often and we have need for more exchange among political leaders,” the Austrian FM told Kurdistan 24 directly after the presser.

Schallenberg also stated that they have a long-standing friendship with the Kurdistan Region.

Moreover, he noted that Austrian businesses are willing to invest and build a presence in the Kurdistan Region.

“I would believe the next step should be an honorary consul in Erbil,” Schallenberg reaffirmed.

Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Region President stated that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been seeking a solution to the issue of obtaining the Kurdistan Region's financial entitlements from the federal government. 

He also revealed that a top KRG delegation led by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and Minister of Finance and Economy Awat Janab Noori will visit Baghdad soon to discuss Kurdistan Region financial entitlements.

This is the first official visit by the Austrian chief diplomat to Erbil, where the country had maintained a commercial office.

However, although Vienna does not have a diplomatic presence, the country enjoys a close relationship with the Kurdistan Region. In Dec. 2006, the country’s Austria Airlines was the first European airline to operate direct flights between Erbil and Vienna.

PM Barzani in February 2022 received at least two Austrian top diplomats, including the head of the Middle East and North Africa section at the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the country’s ambassador to Iraq and Jordan at the time. In the meetings, the Kurdish leader and Austrian diplomats underlined the issue of illegal migration to Europe.

The Austrian diplomats, in turn, expressed their willingness to develop trade and investment ties with the Kurdistan Region, per a release at the time.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani (right) during his meeting with Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg, Sept. 13, 2023. (Photo: Kurdistan Region Presidency)
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani (right) during his meeting with Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg, Sept. 13, 2023. (Photo: Kurdistan Region Presidency)