In the past week, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and an accompanying delegation visited Rome and the Vatican and was received by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, His Holiness Pope Francis, and the Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.
In his meeting with Prime Minister Renzi, Prime Minister Barzani expressed the gratitude of the people and government of the Kurdistan Region to Italy for its provision of essential humanitarian and military assistance to the Kurdistan Region. Moreover, he briefed the Italian Prime Minister about the latest developments in the Kurdistan Region and the continuous progress marked by the Peshmerga forces on the frontline against the Islamic terrorist organisation IS. He also highlighted the situation of the displaced people from the rest of Iraq and the Syrian refugees, stressing that they desperately need further assistance.
Italian Prime Minister Renzi reiterated that his government “will continue to provide humanitarian and military assistance to the Kurdistan Region, and in order to eradicate terrorism we will stand side by side with the Kurdistan Region in every way possible.” He also expressed his respect to the courage of the Peshmerga Forces in their fight against terrorism.
Moreover, Prime Minister Renzi stated that Italy has decided to upgrade its diplomatic representation in Erbil to a Consulate General, considering that this move will send a message to the world that the situation in the Kurdistan Region is better than before. He stated, “It is important for us that Kurdistan Region’s stability continues.”
Both sides also discussed the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad, the situation in Mosul, political developments in Iraq and the importance of including all the components of Iraqi society in governance. They also discussed the situation in Syria and its repercussion on the situation in Iraq and the wider region. The two sides reiterated that a political solution is needed for the Syrian crisis.
In Prime Minister Barzani’s meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis, the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq and the wider Middle East was discussed, focusing on the latest developments in the war against IS, and the importance of the international coalition against terrorism. The two sides reaffirmed that ISIS is a threat not only to Kurdistan, Iraq and the Middle East but to humanity as a whole.
Prime Minister Barzani briefed His Holiness about the situation of IDP’s and refugees who belong to various ethnic and religious groups from different areas of Kurdistan and Iraq where they used to coexist peacefully, but tragically have been forced to flee their homes leaving behind their belongings.
He pointed out that the presence of this large number of refugees and IDPs in the Kurdistan Region has created a heavy burden for the Kurdistan Regional Government. He called on His Holiness to encourage donor countries and the international community to increase their humanitarian assistance.
His Holiness the Pope expressed his gratitude to the Kurdistan Regional Government for accommodating and providing assistance to the displaced Iraqis and refugees from Syria. Moreover, he commended the coexistence between various ethnic and religious groups who have been living peacefully in Kurdistan for centuries. His Holiness also praised Kurdistan Region’s role in the fight against terrorism for the sake of protecting the people of the region, who deserve respect and appreciation.
Prime Minister Barzani also met the Vatican Foreign Minister, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, with whom he discussed bilateral relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Vatican. Foreign Minister Archbishop Gallagher said that the Vatican closely observes and follows up the situation in the Kurdistan and the wider region.
The Vatican’s Foreign Minister praised Kurdistan Regional Government for providing shelter and assistance to the displaced people and refugees. He also praised the role played by the Peshmerga Forces in defending all the people of the region, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, against terrorism.
The KRG delegation included Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani, Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Kamal Muslim, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa, KRG spokesperson, Minister Safeen Dizayee, and the KRG Representative to Italy Ms Rezan Hama Salih.