A High-level delegation from Kurdistan Parliament headed by Mr Jaafar Ibrahim Haji MP, Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament accompanied by Mrs Begard Dlshad MP, the Parliament Secretary and Cross-Party MPs visited the United Kingdom to discuss the prospects for increased bilateral relations with the UK parliament and requested the UK government’s commitment to continue cooperation with the KRG on defence, trade and foreign policy matters.
The KRG UK High Representative, Karwan Jamal Tahir accompanied the delegations to the meetings with the UK Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Speakers of the UK Parliament and Members of the UK Parliament including, Minister of State for International Development and Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP , Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament, Fabian Hamilton MP, Chairman of Ways and Means and Principal Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Deputy Commons Speaker, the Rt Hon Dame Rosie Winterton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans, the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP , Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ian Austin MP, and Chairman of the Defence Committee, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP.
During the meeting with Minister Alistair Burt, the delegates spoke about major challenges of the implementation of Iraqi constitution and the importance of democracy, human rights and governance. Minister Burt said: “the UK supports a strong, prosperous and stable KRG in a unified, developed and strong Iraq. We will still encourage Erbil and Baghdad to solve all their issues via dialogue. With regards to outcome of upcoming election, Minister Burt added: “the UK will make sure with other allies that the mistakes in Iraq which led to all of this would not be repeated in order to create a new partnership where everyone feels the equality and justice.”
The Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Chairman of Ways and Means and Principal Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons welcomed the delegation to the UK and discussed a range of issues related to the need for reconciliation and reconstruction. The delegation also briefed the Deputy Speaker on the agenda of new reforms to ensure Kurdistan parliament fulfil its role of representing the people equally. The Rt Hon Hoyle MP expressed His Honourable’s support to facilitate an effective level of collaboration with the Kurdistan Parliament in order to lay the foundation for a future with solid democratic institutions for the Region. The Rt Hon Hoyle MP stated that the right of each nation must be respected and others should not be allowed to dictate it.
Ian Austin MP also received the delegation on behalf of the Chairman and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The delegation thanked the Foreign Affairs Committee for holding an inquiry on Kurdish Aspirations and the Interest of the UK and welcomed the FAC’s recommendations for the UK government to support these aspirations while opposing violence or unilateral moves. Ian Austin MP said: “Stronger Kurdistan is the key for stability in the wider Region.”
The Deputy Commons Speaker, the Rt Hon Dame Rosie Winterton MP also welcomed the delegation for a meeting at the UK Parliament and discussed the post-referendum challenges, including the impact of blockades on the Kurdistan Region imposed by Iraq and the neighbouring countries. The Rt Hon Winterton MP pointed to her visit to the Kurdistan Region and highlighted the KRG’s issue of receiving a fair share of the budget from the Iraqi government.
The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans. Minister Ellwood recognised the Peshmerga’s military success in the fight against ISIS and underlined the UK’s commitment to post-ISIS stabilisation efforts in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
In a meeting with the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, Chairman of the Defence Committee at UK Parliament, the delegates expressed their appreciation of the UK’s leading role in the Global Coalition to support Peshmerga and defeat Daesh in Iraq. They also reaffirmed the KRG’s strategy to counter radicalisation and violent extremism that undermine shared values.
The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) also hosted a round-table discussion for the parliamentary delegation to reflect on the Kurdish politics, the state of Iraq and explore forthcoming elections, as well as the prospects for security and stability in the country.
The visit was concluded by an event organised by the KRG UK Representation in partnership with the Institute for Statecraft at the Army and Navy Club for the parliamentary delegation to address the evolving political, security and financial environments and recommend practical suggestions as to how the current impasse can be moved forward in a meaningful way. The event was attended by the UK government officials, Security Experts, Academics and Political Analysts, Business delegates, Journalists and Members of the Thinks Tanks.
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