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President Barzani welcomes Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó in Kurdistan

President Barzani welcomes Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó in Kurdistan

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and Minister of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Falah Mustafa Bakir, received the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, and his accompanying delegation.

In the meeting with President Barzani, the two discussed the plight of internally displaced people and refugees in Kurdistan, as well as the issue of migrants and refugees heading to Europe from the Middle East. Additionally, they addressed the efforts to defeat IS, including a Hungarian contribution to this challenge. The Hungarian Foreign Minister reiterated his country’s support to Kurdistan Peshmerga forces by providing military assistance and training.

President Barzani thanked Hungary for its support to the Peshmerga forces. On the refugee and migrant crisis, the President said that the root causes of this issue must be addressed. He said the threat of terrorism and economic challenges are two of the main causes forcing people to leave their countries. On the fight against ISIS, President Barzani said the bulk of this fighting on the ground is on the shoulders of the Peshmerga forces, adding that the world has yet to face this threat in a serious way.

In the meeting with Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations highly spoke of the solidarity and support of the government of Hungary with the Kurdistan Region during the time that the region is facing multiple challenges. The KRG Minister hoped to see continued support from Hungary at both military and humanitarian levels.

Referring to the financial hardships that the KRG is facing due to the drop in oil prices and the impact of 1.8 million Iraqi displaced people and Syrian refugees on the economy of the Region, the Minister warned without a drastic increase in humanitarian assistance from the international community and financial transactions from Baghdad, the KRG will neither be able to cope with the current crisis, nor respond to anticipated new displacements from Mosul.

Minister Bakir also briefed Minister Szijjártó on the advances of the Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS terrorists and the efforts of the KRG to mobilize international support to recognize the atrocities committed against the Yezidi Kurds as acts of genocide.

Hungarian Foreign Minister stated, “We are here to express our thanks and appreciation for the humanitarian response of the Kurdistan Regional Government for hosting around two million Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people regardless of their ethnic and religious background.” He said that the KRG should not be left alone in caring for refugees and displaced people, stressing that the international community has to provide further humanitarian assistance to KRG. He announced that the government of Hungary will put forward an initiative during the upcoming meeting of the EU foreign ministers to grant $300 million to KRG in humanitarian assistance.

Commending the crucial role of Kurdistan Peshmerga forces, Minister Szijjártó reiterated the commitment of Hungary to continue providing military support to Peshmerga forces. He expressed the readiness of Hungary to host a number of wounded Peshmergas in Hungary for medical treatment. He also stressed that the KRG deserves to be represented in the counter-ISIS coalition meetings as the region is spearheading the fight against the terrorist organization.

Referring to the Memorandum of Understanding signed in November 2014 between Kurdistan and Hungary, both ministers reiterated their commitment to further consolidate ties in the fields of education, culture, business, trade and energy. In order to increase bilateral economic cooperation, both ministers encouraged organizing bilateral business and economic forums and exchange of visits between the chambers of commerce of both sides.