President Nechirvan Barzani received Mr. Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces of France and his accompanying delegation on July 19.
The meeting discussed the latest developments in the fight against ISIS, the fight against terrorism and the security situation in Iraq, the Kurdistan Region and the wider region. Both sides agreed that ISIS remains an existing threat which necessitates the continued support of the international coalition and France to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
President Nechirvan Barzani expressed the Kurdistan Region’s gratitude for the support of France to the people of Kurdistan in the past, especially referring to the role of French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron, and stressed that the people of Kurdistan will never forget the solidarity and the support from France.
For his part, the French Minister of Armed Forces expressed delight to visit Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and stressed that his country will continue to support Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in order to maintain peace and stability in Iraq, the Kurdistan Region and the wider region countering the threats of terrorism and ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The meeting, which was attended by the French Ambassador to Iraq and the French Consul General in the Kurdistan Region, highlighted Erbil-Baghdad relations, coordination between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army to fight terrorism, the situation in the wider region in general and the war in Ukraine, it’s ramifications and other issues of common interest were discussed.
Later in a joint press conference, the two sides discussed the contents of their meeting.
The President said:
“I was very pleased to welcome Mr. Minister here in Erbil this evening. We warmly welcome him to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. His visit is an important message of France’s continued support and friendship with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. you are very welcome.
“We had a good meeting. We talked about the fight against ISIS and the fight against terrorism and extremism. We both agreed that ISIS is still a real threat to the security and stability of Iraq and the region, so the international coalition and France should continue to support Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
“We thanked France for its continued support and friendship with the Kurdistan Region. The people of Kurdistan will never forget the help and support of France at different stages. We reiterate our gratitude for the role of President Macron for his continued contact and support to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
“We support the understanding and agreements between Iraq and France. We expect the Kurdistan Region to benefit from it, especially in the field of assistance and training of the Peshmerga.
“We stressed the importance of continued coordination and cooperation between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region with France and the international community to maintain peace and stability and to meet this challenge in Iraq and the region.
“We discussed the situation in Sinjar, the Yezidis, Christians and other communities and the importance of paving the way for the return of the Yezidi refugees to their places. In this regard, we both agreed that it is important for this purpose to implement the agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Federal Government to normalize the situation in Sinjar.
“We thank the French Embassy in Baghdad and French Consulate General in Erbil for their efforts to promote French relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Welcome again to Erbil, Mr. Minister.”
Minister of the Armed Forces of France:
“Thank you, Mr. President Nechirvan Barzani, thank you for this warm welcome, thank you for these words of friendship and for the way the delegation I am leading was received and welcomed. I would like to thank the French Ambassador to Iraq and the French Consul General in Erbil.
“At a very special moment for the whole world, where there are many security challenges that we must face together, as we mentioned during our meeting, France is strengthening itself. In the parliament we voted for a law to approve an unprecedented budget.
“When I say unprecedented, it reminds us of General Charles de Gaulle’s measures in the 1960s to manage various crisis situations such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the return of rivalry of global powers. Current issues include climate change and security challenges on land and sea, with a very prominent topic on the table: terrorism.
“As I told you, France has a deeply special relationship with this subject, which is an emotional relationship, and it is regrettable that it has a relationship with its calamities as well. We have seen the bombings in Paris and Nice, and we know what the blood shed in France has to do with misery. In confronting terrorism France is not an ordinary Western country like others.
“This forces us to verify the results achieved here by our forces through Operation North, as well as the operations within the framework of the international coalition. The operations were carried out within the framework of bilateral relations. The results of these operations are visible here and are reassuring.
“At the very least, the fight against terrorism remains a challenge. As a constant challenge, as a very delicate challenge for every moment, and completely with radical Islam which is the Islamic State (ISIS), our task is not over. Therefore, we must continue to cooperate in the field of intelligence and training. As you mentioned, Mr. President, I will not go back to these issues, but these are the keys to the future in order to accelerate the issues related to security.
“Then we will have the opportunity to come to another global issue: Ukraine. This is an issue that French diplomacy has been very busy with in the past. It is also an opportunity to tell the media here, as well as various observers, that France is not short-sighted when it says that the Ukraine crisis has occupied a lot of Western energy. We know how much we owe to our friends and all our partners to meet all the challenges that are key to regional stability, as well as to the security of Iraqi Kurdistan and French citizens.
“This is the message of this visit, which is a message of friendship and loyalty, a message of gratitude for the work done so far, as well as for the projects. Projects for the future are about the challenges we face, the challenges we constantly face and must face together.
“Thank you very much again for this warm welcome. I am happy for my first visit to Erbil that I will never forget.”