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Speech by Prime Minister Barzani at inauguration of eighth cabinet

Speech by Prime Minister Barzani at inauguration of eighth cabinet

Your Excellency Speaker of the Parliament,
Distinguished Members of Parliament,

Good afternoon.
Today, we are announcing the new cabinet at a critical point in time. In 2003, we needed to act with one voice and work together in order to protect and preserve the achievements and interests of the Kurdistan Region. Similarly, we need to have the same strategic posture at this difficult period in Iraq in order to not squander any achievements that have been made and to ensure the safety and security of those living in the Kurdistan Region and in parts of Kurdistan outside of KRG administration. For this reason, the decision constitutes a historic responsibility for the people of Kurdistan.
Distinguished Members of Parliament,

The eighth cabinet is a broad-based government, reflecting the aspirations of the political forces in the Kurdistan Region. Achieving this task required patience during the process of forming such a cabinet in order to construct a real partnership that would respond to the current needs of the people and the political constituencies of the Kurdistan Region.

I would like to thank the people of the Kurdistan Region for their patience during the government formation process, especially after Iraq’s federal government cut the salaries of KRG employees. This unjust and unconstitutional decision has made the lives of the people in the Region more difficult and has also had a negative impact on Kurdistan’s economy and investment. We share their sorrow and sadness for the trouble that this situation has caused for the people of Kurdistan.
In the coming years the resistance and fortitude of the people of the Kurdistan Region will usher in a new stage in which injustice will be confronted. This will help to settle these issues, and the Kurdistan Region will not face political or financial crises such as this again.

This cabinet will make every effort to incorporate a hard-working and transparent government based on the principles of citizenship, separation of powers, peace and social justice, human rights and particularly the rights of women and children, the rule of law and justice, increased prosperity, genuine reform, protection of the Kurdistan Region’s environment, and the identification of appropriate solutions to combat corruption in all of its forms in KRG institutions.

Citizenship will become the principle, the value, and the primary measurement of government activities. The cabinet will work to provide equal opportunities for all
inhabitants of Kurdistan regardless of their political, ethnic, or religious affiliation. In addition, based on the mechanism of the rule of law and institutionalization, the new cabinet will work to ensure that institutions and government duties, authorities, and responsibilities are separate from the activities and duties of political parties.

The eighth cabinet is a coalition government and its participants are genuine partners in this government. This includes at the level of implementing government duties, decision-making, and responsibility for all decisions. This government belongs to everyone in Kurdistan and works for citizens’ prosperity and interests and to provide them with services.

Participants in the cabinet will be committed and qualified to handle the government’s economic, financial, and administrative responsibilities. Members of the government will all be responsible for its decisions, and no side will be an obstacle in implementing the government’s decisions. The different parties that come together to form this cabinet will govern the Region based on the votes and confidence the people have entrusted to it. The government will work resolutely to deliver on the promises made to the people and will serve them.

We will make the participation of various political parties in the coalition government a factor to reinforce the foundations of democracy and peaceful coexistence, respecting differences in views, freedom of the press, and governing and working together under the same umbrella. This will bring the tolerance of the people of Kurdistan to a new stage in our political history.

We have to take significant steps in order to help realize the dreams of past generations: bringing about a self-governing, stable and secure Kurdistan. We will responsibly identify the necessary steps to be taken in the future.

Distinguished Members of Parliament,
One of the duties of the new cabinet will be to adopt a reconciliatory policy to settle the unresolved issues and the Region’s future with Iraq’s federal government. This includes, especially, the issue of the areas of Kurdistan outside KRG administration and the implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi federal constitution. We will work together, in coordination with the Region’s presidency, the parliament, and in cooperation with political parties, to take urgent steps to establish a negotiation council for political agreement that reflects the will of the people of Kurdistan.

The eighth cabinet will create a suitable environment to ensure that the parliament can properly monitor the government’s activities. Meanwhile, we require the trust and support of the parliament so that the government and the parliament can work together to serve the people of the Kurdistan Region. To this end, the government will be in constant communication with the parliament and its chairmanship council.

Kurdistan Region is a relatively rich region; therefore, our current objective is to achieve economic independence, continuous growth, and diversification of income sources – thus avoiding reliance on natural resources revenues alone. The government will work to develop various sectors, including agriculture, industry, trade, services, and will strive to reduce the difference in living conditions between towns in the countryside and cities.

The government will work to improve major water services, electricity, and road networks to meet the clear economic growth and increased standard of living in Kurdistan. The KRG will also promote local and foreign investment by utilizing the Region’s capabilities, materials, and human resources. This requires active work to implement decentralization, separation of powers, and reach an agreement to amend the laws.

We will pay special attention to the sectors of industry and tourism and will support the private sector to play its role in reconstruction and propelling the economic growth of Kurdistan.

The government will improve the investment framework in Kurdistan in a way to meet the social and economic development corresponding to the Region’s next phases.

In the eighth cabinet’s program, we will continue to reform the education and higher education systems by providing the needed facilities, improving academic capacity, and developing scientific research and vocational studies to create a qualified and capable workforce for the job market and reducing the rate of illiteracy in the Region.

In the health sector, we will work to adopt a more modern health system and separate public and private sector medical services.
The eighth cabinet will continue to pay attention to the lives and living conditions of the families of martyrs, victims of the Anfal campaign, chemical weapons attacks, and political prisoners.

We will work to reframe the housing sector in a modern way and will work to solve housing issues, especially for low-income families.
We are proud of the security and stability that prevail in Kurdistan, despite its location in the heart of an area torn by violence, war, terror, and repression. The situation in Kurdistan has been enabled by the efforts, awareness, and conscientious efforts of the Peshmerga, police, and security forces that work for all the people of Kurdistan. Therefore, the KRG strives to improve the lives and living conditions of the Region’s armed forces and enhance their abilities and skills. Strengthening the sense of national loyalty to the armed forces will be an important task of this government.

The eighth cabinet will work to review and regulate the pension and salary system to benefit people in a fair way. It will work to establish the Kurdistan Fund for Oil Income and the Region’s Petroleum Company, as stipulated by Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas Law number 22 of 2007.
The eight cabinet will continue to develop, support, and encourage the local private sector and provide suitable conditions for foreign companies and investors in order to create job opportunities and reduce the rate of unemployment, particularly for youth and graduates of institutes and universities. The government will adopt modern operational employment policies and strive to eliminate manipulation in the private market, companies, and investment.

Distinguished Members of Parliament,
What I have mentioned above is the general overview of the coalition government’s action plan, which will form the basis of the policies and projects of the government, and will be reflected in the work and programmes of the ministries.

Eventually, the adoption and the success of the government’s programme will be a success for the resilient people of Kurdistan – a people that have suffered for a long time. Providing social and economic services is an honour for the government. The people of Kurdistan deserve a brighter future; they deserve freedom, liberty, and a more robust democracy. With the backing of security, Peshmerga, police forces, and the people, we can achieve better results and make greater dreams come true.

Thank you