Kurdistan Regional Government
FRI, 19 APR 2019 05:28 Erbil, GMT +3

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Karel de Gucht promotes commercial ties with Kurdistan Region

THU, 28 MAY 2009 22:43 | KRG Cabinet

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq (KRG.org) – Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht arrived in Erbil today to meet the leaders of the Kurdistan Region. During his visit he endorsed the federal system as the most suited to Iraq, and discussed building closer commercial relations with the Kurdistan Region.

The Belgian Deputy Prime Minister came to Erbil, the Kurdistan Region's capital, after a visit to Baghdad and was accompanied by Belgian Chargé d’Affaires Jeroen Vergeylen, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and other officials.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani greeted the Deputy Prime Minister at the airport and held a luncheon in honour of Mr De Gucht, attended by a number of senior KRG officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Imad Ahmad.

Mr Barzani said, “I am very happy to see Deputy Prime Minister De Gucht here today. Belgium has a rich federal experience, of great importance to the KRG as we promote a federal, democratic, pluralistic Iraq.” He added, “I would like to express my firm support for forthcoming trade missions to the Region, which will give Belgian firms a chance to invest in the Region.” The Prime Minister briefed Mr De Gucht on political developments and several key issues, including Kirkuk and disputed territories, oil and gas legislation, and adherence to the Constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister De Gucht with Prime Minister Barzani and KRG officials

President Masoud Barzani, Vice President Kosrat Rosul, and senior officials met Deputy Prime Minister De Gucht in the afternoon. Mr Barzani and Mr De Gucht held a joint press conference at the conclusion of their meeting.

President Barzani said, “I would like to warmly welcome HE Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht of Belgium, and I think this visit is a good opportunity to exchange views and talk about different issues. We are pleased that Belgium has shown interest in enhancing its relations with Iraq in general and the Kurdistan Region as well.” He added, “We look forward to further developing the relationship between the Kurdistan Region and Belgium, including encouraging Belgian companies to come and invest in the Region, in order to participate in the reconstruction process.”

Mr De Gucht’s presented his views on federalism in Iraq. “I think that the future of Iraq is best served by a federal system, because you have different nations within one country and you have different ethnic groups within one country and you have different religions.”

He continued, “I think it is very important that there is maximum transparency with respect to the revenues and the financial aspects of your federation.” He explained that Belgium has experience with a form of federal government since the 1970s. Mr De Gucht also addressed the importance of adherence to the Iraqi Constitution.

Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, said, “The KRG welcomes this visit as we expand our relations with the international community, in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Ministry in Baghdad.”

Deputy Prime Minister De Gucht visited the local office of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), which has been supported by the Belgian Foreign Ministry for the past few years. Finally, the delegation briefly toured the citadel and the city of Erbil. Mr De Gucht was impressed by the level and pace of reconstruction.