Kurdistan Regional Government
TUE, 21 NOV 2017 16:50 Erbil, GMT +3

Inaugural speech by Prime Minister Barham Salih

TUE, 3 NOV 2009 13:36 | KRG Cabinet

Kurdistan Parliament, Erbil, 28th October 2009
Inaugural speech by KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih

In the name of God the most merciful, the most compassionate.
Your Excellency, Mr Masoud Barzani, President of the Region,
Your Excellency, Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament,
Dear members of the Kurdistan Parliament,
Distinguished guests,

I have the utmost gratitude for your support and for approving and endorsing the sixth cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The support and endorsement that you granted to me and to my dear colleague Mr Azad Barwari, and all the ministers of our cabinet are an honour and a solemn responsibility. They will, undoubtedly, motivate us to work and serve our people and implement the government’s agenda: the agenda of renewal and reconstruction, so that the new government can deliver to the extent of the hopes and expectations of the people of Kurdistan Region.

The sixth cabinet has the accumulated experience of many terms of governance in Kurdistan. We have with us here at the ceremony, Dr Fuad Ma’soum, the Prime Minister of the first KRG Cabinet, and Mr Kosrat Rasul, the Prime Minister of the second cabinet, to them and to all the previous cabinet leaders; we value highly your role and your efforts.

This cabinet will take over from an active cabinet, led by my dear colleague Mr Nechirvan Barzani, who led the cabinet through administrative unification and reconstruction. He leaves office proudly at a productive stage and a new chapter in the political life of Kurdistan.

Mr Barzani, his Deputy Mr Imad Ahmed, and all their colleagues deserve our special regard and gratitude for all their endeavours and efforts, for their successes in delivering public services, the provision of electricity, water and fuel, the success in oil production, economic development and various forms of reconstruction.

I personally and on behalf of Mr Azad Barwari as well as my colleagues in this cabinet, would like to thank Mr Barzani, Mr Imad Ahmed, and your colleagues.
Mr Barzani, I am personally counting on your continuous support and advice, as a dear friend and brother, and I am certain that you will be supportive with the same passion and enthusiasm for the KRG.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This new cabinet assumes office under a new political climate; we will face vast responsibilities within the framework of the new government prepared agenda. This includes the responsibility of protecting and expanding upon our achievements, maintaining several critical initiatives of the [previous] fifth Cabinet in terms of administrative and financial reform, and also the responsibility of resolving the shortcomings that we have not yet been able to tackle.

We know that the citizens of the Kurdistan Region, from all backgrounds, including the families of the proud fallen and Anfal victims, look to us with the utmost hope. Garmian and Halabja are expecting more reconstruction. Similarly, Badinan expects further development; Erbil, Suleimaniah and Dohuk are waiting for better services. Our villages are in need of more schools, health centres and better roads. Therefore, we pledge to work wholeheartedly to implement the agenda that we proposed during the election campaign.

We are committed to the implementation of the agenda of renewal and reconstruction; we want to transform our words into action. We all know that there is criticism of government performance and the methods of self-rule, since our government has not been able to fulfill all the needs and wishes of the people of Kurdistan. We hear such criticism and comments, and we will not shy away from them. We cannot ignore the fact that a large part of the problem was caused by the dual administration system of the past and the political situation of the Kurdistan Region at that time.

Yes, today, after 18 years of self-governance by the people of the Kurdistan Region, even with all of our achievements and pride, we should demonstrate that we need change, revival and reform and show that we will not stand still upon our achievements. In the last elections, the majority of the people of Kurdistan voted for the Kurdistani List, showing a renewed trust in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). However, a considerable number did not vote for us. I would like to show appreciation for the trust of the people who voted for us, while at the same time state that we hear the criticisms of those who did not vote for us. We will try our best to live up to the expectations of our supporters, and to regain the confidence of others.

People are expecting more from us, and they certainly deserve better. But we want to be honest with our people, openly stating that solutions to current problems and shortcomings cannot be achieved overnight. In confronting the current problems, especially corruption, attacking the interests of the corrupt people would prompt some obstructions. The key to success in the fight against corruption is the rule of law and transparency in government activity. In this respect, the President of the Kurdistan Region has put forward a recommendation regarding empowering the role of the public prosecutor. Therefore in this cabinet the Minister of Justice, Judge Rauf, will also shoulder the duty of Public Prosecutor; ensuring that dossiers of corruption and mismanagement of public funds will be sent to court.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are planning to unify the institutions of the Asayish [intelligence and security] and Peshmerga forces and the finance institutions once and for all; virtually terminating the last trace of the dual administration system. We will also, through plans and actions, put an end to political party interference in governmental affairs, so that we become the government of our citizens under an active parliament without discrimination. We will work shoulder to shoulder for a civilised religious and ethnic coexistence, based on the rights of the citizen.
We will work to provide the necessary atmosphere for political activity and the development of multi-party traditions by amending the laws pertaining to parties and communities, and also by issuing a law regarding political party funding.

We will promote political freedom and public determination. We hope that civil society, media outlets, and journalists will play better roles in promoting public opinion and expanding the circle of democracy. We want the youth and women to have an area of activity, freedom of work and broader participation in our Region’s political decisions. We advise the youth of Kurdistan: you are valuable assets, the future of Kurdistan will be guaranteed through your development and provision of opportunities to you, whether within government or within society. One of the ways to achieve this objective is to reorganise the government structure in a way that creates space for capable and qualified youth.

The economy has undoubtedly undergone considerable progress in all respects, and the current living standards in contrast with the past and in comparison with other parts of Iraq are higher. In addition, in our proposed platform, we have designed further development plans for all areas of economic growth and service delivery, such as education and higher education, health, agriculture and irrigation, roads, resolving the housing problems for low-income citizens, increasing the income level of the individual and the living standards of the lower class.

With regards to the Region’s public budget, we will adopt a balanced and fair policy to meet the needs and requirements of the whole Kurdistan Region without prejudice. We will work for precise transparent monitoring through the Parliament Audit Committees, and we will work towards diversifying the sources of income and disclosing our expenditures. We will aim to establish an integrity commission for monitoring and investigation, and a law will be issued requiring properties of officials to be made public. These are necessary agenda items for improving financial policy, tackling the corruption phenomenon, and establishing better transparency in government activity.

The coordination of parliamentary blocks with the government will be our path to success. Let the opposition, as a new parliamentary experience, not engage the government with unnecessary issues. Rather, it should be a model for administrative and realistic reform and to empower democracy and the political process. This request places dual responsibility on the government and the opposition. The political situation in the Region and the challenges that it faces demands that we all work hand in hand to protect our experience, development and progress. We must strive together to regain unachieved rights for the people of Kurdistan and to guarantee a bright future for the democratic and constitutional experience in Iraq.

We cannot assume that the proceedings in Iraq, the region and the world will not have an effect on us. In the next four years, the political process in Iraq will become harder and more complicated. Therefore, our unity and the political blocks’ support in strengthening governance in Kurdistan will strengthen our position in confronting any challenges and handling any unexpected events.

This along with the expectations of people, youth and other constituents, of government in fulfilling their goals and meeting their needs, while making them also responsible in contributing to the process of strengthening governance and implementing the Renewal and Reconstruction platform.

Pending issues between Baghdad and Erbil
The [Iraqi] Constitution guarantees coexistence among the Iraqi factions, and the majority of the Iraqi people have voted for this Constitution. The issue of Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Sinjar and other disputed areas, the oil and gas and revenue issue and the power sharing issue can only be resolved through commitment to the Constitution.

Today, at this event, I would like to express our condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims of the recent explosions in Baghdad. We assure our citizens in Iraq: your enemy is not the Kurds and their demands, and undoubtedly, the Kurds’ enemies are not Arabs or any other faction in this country; our common enemies are terrorism, extremism, and the crimes that are committed against the innocent people of Iraq. We reiterate that Kurdistan, as always, remains a fortress for Iraqi freedom seekers. It is still the pillar and support of the democratic experience of Iraq; for all those who desire democracy and for the philanthropists of this country. It is the enemies of democracy and federalism in Iraq who require these issues to remain unresolved. We are committed to our rightful demands, delineated in the constitution, and we will work to implement its authority.

The people of Kurdistan have chosen the constitutional framework for solving their issues. In the permanent Iraqi Constitution and Article 140, there is a constitutional solution and legal framework for resolving the issue of Kirkuk and the other disputed areas. It is the duty of those who desire democracy in Iraq to cooperate in eliminating the traces of ethnic cleansing, and implementing Article 140. Let us all work together to compensate for the previous deprivation in those areas, through reconstruction and through supporting their administrative and security institutions and to ensure political stability and security for the people.

Kurdistan Region's relations with neighbours
Although Kurdistan is a region within the framework of the state of Iraq, history has granted us a fundamental role, a special position in relations with our neighbours. We want the Kurdistan Region to have a stable relationship with its neighbours. Obviously, this will be established on the principles of mutual interest. With Turkey, we have commercial and economic relations and cooperation which have benefited both sides and reflected positively on normalising our political relations. In this regard, we support Turkey’s democratic openness towards the Kurds.

Obviously, with the Islamic Republic of Iran, we have long standing relations, as they were supportive of the oppressed people of the Kurdistan Region during their anguish. Therefore, we intend to promote our economic, cultural and other types of relations through mutual understanding.

The people of the Kurdistan Region are a faithful nation. We never forget our friends and supporters, especially our allies - the United States of America and those countries that supported Iraqis throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom. We highly appreciate this alliance and we would like to strengthen our ties, both as a Region and as Iraq, to benefit our standing within the international community, and for the benefit of strengthening our mutual goals.

Another key issue that we would like the sixth Cabinet to focus on is the issue of the Anfal campaign and Halabja. Nearly twenty years after this crime was committed, perpetrators were punished and the Anfal campaign was recognised as a genocide by the Iraqi Special Tribunal. We will work with international decision makers to officially recognise the Iraqi Special Tribunal’s decision. We will also endeavour to implement the decision to compensate the victims of the Anfal campaign and those who were affected by chemical weapons. We want to rehabilitate the victims’ surviving families so that they can enjoy normal living conditions. We will try to bring back the remains of the Anfal victims from the mass graves in the middle and the south of Iraq to Kurdistan, where deserved monuments can be erected for them. We will spare no effort to make this officially recognised worldwide.

Finally, with my utmost gratitude to President Jalal Talabani for his continued support, I thank Mr Masoud Barzani, President of the Region, for his support and encouragement. We require your support. We will do our utmost to live up to the expectations of our people to promote the Kurdistan Region’s experience. May it please the pure spirit of the fallen, and comfort the families and victims of the Anfal and Halabja genocides and for a brighter future for our next generations; for our girls and boys of Kurdistan.

With the support of God, and our sincere efforts, we hope that on the day that we leave office, the people of the Region of Kurdistan, will be more content, more proud and more prosperous.

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