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Austrian minister in Erbil to boost ties, vows more humanitarian aid

Sebastian Kurz in Erbil.
Sebastian Kurz in Erbil.

by Farhad Chomani

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in Erbil Monday that his country is looking into opening a consulate and holding an “economic summit” in Kurdistan.

Kurz told reporters that his country backs the Kurdistan Region’s war against the Islamic State (ISIS), praising its frontline Peshmerga forces for their “bravery against the terrorists.”

He said that a planned honorary consulate in Erbil would promote “the already healthy relations between Kurdistan and Austria.”

“We have plans for an economic summit in Kurdistan with the help of the companies that are operating here,” he said at a joint press conference with his Kurdish counterpart, Falah Mustafa.

Kurz also praised Kurdistan for sheltering some 1.5 million refugees from Syria and other parts of war-torn Iraq, vowing his country would continue to increase humanitarian aid.

“We know about the great number of refugees here, which is equivalent to one third of Kurdistan’s population,” Kurz said. “We have brought with us $1.250,000 which was donated in Austria to help refugees in Kurdistan and indeed it will not be the last aid,” he said.

So far some 30 countries have opened diplomatic missions in the Kurdistan Region, including the United States, China, Russia and the United Kingdom.

With the rest of Iraq teetering under violence and war, numerous foreign companies have also set up base in Kurdistan. The World Bank indicated a 9 per cent growth for Kurdistan in 2013, before an ISIS attack in August that imposed a war on Erbil.

“We need Austria, which is an EU member state, to help us open an official representative for the European Union in Erbil,” Mustafa told reporters. The Austrian foreign minister expressed his country’s support for the mission.

Austria was among the first European countries to start flights to Kurdistan, which Austrian Airlines began in 2006. Austria is home to about 25,000 Kurds, who migrated there in the late 1980s and 1990s as international sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq heavily affected Kurdistan. 



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imsooverthisbs | 2/2/2015
ohh jee thanks Austria, thanks for sending a $million + for the A-rabs.... ohh and thank you for your "praise" HEY EVERYONE we can relax now because theyve "praised" us yay Dude, if it wasnt for the Kurds, IS would be in your cities right now raping your women and slaughtering your men Just remeber that next time to send arms to Bagdad
Chemicals and Qasimlou | 2/2/2015
After all the backstabbing that Austria did to kurds, it's nice to see them do some good to kurds.
FAUthman | 2/2/2015
Good news for IOCs working in Kurdistan. There may be an agreement with Baghdad that the 550k bpd the Kurds agreed to export through SOMO will be counted annually and not daily. This will enable the Kurds to pay their debts to the IOCs in the first few months of this year by paying the IOCs with the oil it had intended to go Baghdad. The Kurds will then boost exports through Baghdad in the latter part of the year when their infrastructure is ready. This will also put more monthly cash from Baghdad in Kurds hands to spend on their urgent needs, $.9 billion instead of $.625 billion, by my prior estimate.
das | 2/2/2015
Great news! To the rest of the kurds in europe, US, Australia and so on, plz, put pressure on your governments and politicians to aid the kurds, not only military but humanitarian aid! You can gather hummanitarian walks in your cities. You talk about the situation with collagues, friend, schools and hospitals. One people, one country, Kurdistan!
Kandil | 2/2/2015
The West can only count on Kurds, not Turkey, not Saoudi Arabia.

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