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German Foreign Minister Steinmeier visits Kurdistan Region

On Tuesday, 8 December 2015, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and his accompanying delegation visited the Kurdistan Region. On his visit, Steinmeier met with President Masoud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, the Head of the DFR, Minister Falah Mustafa, and numerous other officials.

Both sides acknowledged the good bilateral cooperation and relations between Germany and the Kurdistan Region. Important issues discussed were the political situation in Kurdistan and in Iraq, as well as the fight against ISIS.

It was the third visit of the German Foreign Minister to Erbil – his last visit was in summer 2014, when ISIS terrorists had caused the displacement of thousands of Yezidis from Sinjar, and had captured and murdered many of them. As a response, Germany had provided humanitarian support and had taken the decision on making a contribution to the armament of the Peshmerga forces. In this context, Steinmeier congratulated the KRG for the recent liberation of Sinjar.

Following the political talks, Steinmeier reiterated German cooperation with the KRG. Moreover, he highlighted that the inevitable military response needs to be part of a “larger political strategy” in order to be successful. Therefore, a double strategy is necessary: In the liberated territories, measures need to be taken to show the people “that it is possible and desirable for them to return to their villages and cities”. Despite an improvement in security and the defusing of landmines, the German Government also wants to help improve the living conditions by providing five mobile medical stations.

President Barzani and Prime Minister Barzani both thanked Foreign Minister Steinmeier for his visit and for the important and generous German support. In this context, both stressed that the Region is facing a threefold crisis: a military crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and an economic crisis. Therefore, each and every form of assistance is of fundamental importance.

Foreign Minister Steinmeier also visited the IDP camp Baharka north of Erbil, which includes a school for IDP children provided by UNICEF. The camp was originally installed for Syrian refugees; in the meantime it developed into an IDP camp supported by UNHCR. In the camp, Steinmeier spoke with several IDPs and IDP families which had fled Mossul and other territories about 1.5 years ago.

Concluding his visit to the Kurdistan Region, Steinmeier stopped by the multinational “Camp Erbil”, where Kurdish Peshmerga forces are being trained by German Soldiers on how the correct use of German weapons.