Last week, the Austrian Ambassador to Iraq and Jordan, Dr. Oskar Wüstinger, visited the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in conjunction with the economic delegation organised by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. This was the first visit by His Excellency since his appointment because of the corona pandemic.
Ambassador Wüstinger opened the Business Forum in Erbil, where he reaffirmed the economic potential of the relationship between Austria and Kurdistan. After the forum, Minister Safeen Dizayee, Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, had a meeting with Dr. Wüstinger. Minister Dizayee thanked the Ambassador for his presence during the forum and briefed him regarding the humanitarian situation in the Kurdistan Region. Specifically, he illustrated the number of IDPs and refugees that are hosted in the autonomous Region and the need of international coordination to allow the safe return of the displaced to their ancestral homes. Another point of discussion were the upcoming national elections in Iraq.
The day after, Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani welcomed the Austrian Ambassador in his office in Erbil. The fruitful exchange focused on the friendly bilateral relations between Austrian and Kurdistan. The President informed Dr. Wüstinger on the ongoing dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad and how these should be based on the Iraqi constitution. Finally, the two parties tackled the relations with the neighbouring countries and the repercussions on the wider Middle East region.
Before departing to Amman, Ambassador Wüstinger had the pleasure to meet former President Masoud Barzani. The President talked about more than 40 years of personal relations with Austria, dating back to the refugee crisis of the 1970s and his special friendship with former Austrian President Dr. Heinz Fischer. An important point of discussion was the fight against terrorism and the sacrifices made by Peshmerga fighters at the hands of IS. President Masoud Barzani reaffirmed Kurdistan’s readiness to continue its fight against terrorism and radicalisation and underlined the importance of international coordination and cooperation in this matter.