The Foreign Minister of Poland was joined by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the Foreign Ministers of Sweden and Bulgaria to officially inaugurate the new Polish consulate office in Erbil today.
The plans to establish a presence in the Kurdistan Region were announced last year by Poland's Ambassador to Iraq, Mr Stanislaw Smolen, and were approved by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this year.
"We welcome the opening of this consulate here today, as it signals the beginning of a new stage in our relations. The establishment of this office will open the door for Polish businesses, universities and individuals to join with us in realising the many opportunities that exist here in Kurdistan," Prime Minister Barzani said regarding the opening of the new representation.
The Head of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa, praised the move, saying that it fell in line with the government's outreach programme to engage with the international community.
Commenting on the other foreign ministers who participated in the event, he said, "We are pleased that Sweden has already taken this step, and their embassy office here is already helping to improve our coordination in a number of important areas. We hope now that Bulgaria and the EU will join their friends and partner with us in supporting the coordination of our respective peoples for the mutual benefit of all."
The consulate joins the other growing diplomatic and foreign representations in Erbil, bringing the total number of official representations to 25. Several other nations have also announced plans to establish a diplomatic presence in the region.
The three foreign ministers, Minister Carl Bildt from Sweden, Minister Radosław Sikorski from Poland and Minister Nickolay Mladenov from Bulgaria, were all visiting Kurdistan in a joint, high-level delegation after completing a visit to Baghdad and Beirut as well.
The inauguration of the new office was also attended by Poland's Ambassado to Iraq, Mr Stanislaw Smolen; Sweden's Ambassador to Iraq, Mr Carl Magnus Nesser; Bulgaria's Ambassador to Iraq, Valeri Ratchev; the Head of the EU Delegation to Iraq, Ambassador Jana Hybashkova; the Chief of Staff to President Masoud Barzani, Dr Fuad Hussein; the KRG Minister for the Interior, Karim Sinjari; and the KRG Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Ashti Hawrami, as well as other senior local and international officials.