Kurdistan Regional Government representatives met with members of the Flanders regional government on Tuesday. Photo: Geert Bourgeois twitter
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—A delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) met with political leaders in the Flanders region of Belgium to discuss ties between the two regions and support for the Kurds with respect to the refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) crisis in the region. The KRG delegation traveled to Flanders on an official invitation and met with the Minister-President and Ministers of the Flanders Region on Tuesday.
The KRG delegation was headed by Ali Sindi, the Minister of Planning and acting Minister of Trade and Industry. They met with Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister for Foreign Policy, as well as the economic and trade ministers of the Flanders Region, Rudaw’s correspondent Ala Shali in Belgium reported.
“The KRG delegation’s meetings certainly will be in the interest of both sides,” the KRG’s envoy to the European Union (EU), Delaver Ajgeiy, told Rudaw, adding, “The Flanders region is important for the KRG politically and economically. Its annual revenue is more than 180 billion Euros.”
The Kurdistan and Flanders regions have been developing ties for a couple of years. Bourgeois visited the Kurdistan Region in April and met with President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
During his visit, he told Rudaw that the Kurdish people have the right to determine their future via a referendum.
"I think it is up to the people of Kurdistan to decide what they want, do they want a kind of federalism or independence. I respect the will of the Kurdish people," Bourgeois told Rudaw in April.
He also said the Peshmerga are very important, not only for the region but for the world. Accordingly, he insisted, they should be given more arms since they are combating Islamic State (ISIS).
Bourgeois also visited refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region and announced $228,000 in funding for displaced families in the region.
During his visit, Bourgeois extended an invitation to the Kurdish government to organize an economic mission to Flanders. “The Kurds realise they have to diversify to create more wealth,” he said at the time.
“We want to help them do that. We will help them get their economy going again, via an exchange of expertise and co-operation with Flemish universities,” he added, according to Flanders Today Newspaper on April 11.
In 2014, the government of Flanders provided €400,000 via the Red Cross for water and sanitation in the Kurdistan Region, according to Flanders Today.
The Kurdish delegation is also expected to meet with a delegation from the European Union (EU), including with EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and civil protection on Thursday to discuss providing support for the Kurdistan Region on the refugee and IDP issue.
They will also discuss the upcoming battle for Mosul, and the expected influx of IDPs fleeing the military offensive.