Honorable Casini the President of IDC
Honorable Prime Ministers
Leaders, Representatives of Political Parties
Ladies and Gentelmen
I would like to express my gratitude to the IDC Secretary for inviting KDP to this congress. We wish all the attendees success and prosperity.
We find ourselves today very privileged to be among you. The KDP is a prominent Political Party working to serve the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. Since its establishment in 1946, the KDP has proudly been on the frontline of the struggle for democracy and human rights for the people of Kurdistan.
We have done so in service to a set of core principles. We have long believed that no man can be truly free whilst another is enslaved. All Iraqis have suffered together from well-known atrocities. These disasters stem directly from the failure of Iraqi leaders to recognize that their power rests first, last, and only in the will of the people. That they serve, they do not rule. As such, the KDP has long partnered with other national parties in Iraq to foster democracy for all the people.
It is not a shallow democracy toward which we strive. The KDP has constantly adhered to the promotion of social justice and equality. We believe that a diverse society is strengthened by its richness; that a free people must naturally embrace and respect the values and skills of its different peoples, striving not for uniformity but for a spirit that acknowledges the contributions of its difference to the wealth of its society.
We must therefore leave behind the divisions of our past, forgiving the wrongs committed against us and moving together toward a future of cooperation and mutual benefit. While we always remember, we have not clung to the natural anger and resentment that flows from the horrors of our past. The systematic genocide of our people by past Iraqi regimes, where almost all our villages were destroyed and 182,000 people went missing or were martyred in chemical weapons attacks like that against Halabja in 1988 -- could encourage reactionary attempts to insulate ourselves so as not to suffer at the hands of another again. But this is not Kurdistan. The people of Kurdistan have a strong, committed belief to forgiveness and cooperation. We have never sought revenge, holding onto the spirit of our shared humanity, looking forward to a brighter future where we can all contribute to the building of a country that ensures through inclusive constitutional bodies that no one ever relives the horrors of our past.
It has always been the KDP's honor to work and sacrifice toward the realization of such a society for the Kurdistan people, and we have seized opportunities to put these values to work in democratic institutions. After the 1991 uprising, we readily and eagerly accepted our first chance to elect representatives, setting up a government that was chosen by the people and responsible to them for its conduct. It was this initial commitment that has led us to the booming Kurdistan Region of today. While we still have much work left, today our people live in a society of law, where power is progressively being spread over different constitutional bodies to ensure the protection of our rights and allow for the healthy expression of our disagreements.
Dear congress attendees,
Our community in Kurdistan is characterized by openness. The rights and responsibilities of different social components are well protected. There are 11 political parties; among them are opposition parties, represented in the Kurdistan Parliament, 33% of the parliament members are women, and 5 out of 111 members of parliaments are Christians. We have established quotas to protect and promote the reflection of our society in these institutions. Moreover, other national groups like Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syrians, Turkmens and Armenians are free to use their native language at schools. Religious freedom is not a goal; it is a practice in the Kurdistan Region. Muslims Christians, Yazidi and other religions freely exercise and to this, we are very proud.
Our faith in democracy, pluralism, and freedom has brought us political stability. The security we enjoy has allowed us to progress rapidly in the development of a healthy private sector and economy, and to rehabilitate our communities. Out of 4500 demolished villages, we have rebuilt around 4000. In 1991 we had only one university, today we have 17.
In 2002, per capita income was only $275, while in 2012 this number has grown to $5000 in just one decade. The unemployment rate in Kurdistan is 7% and 20 billion dollars is now invested annually. In addition, there are more than 3000 foreign companies operating in the Kurdistan Region. We now have our own oil sector, which produces around 175000 barrels per day, and is predicted to reach 1 million barrel per day by 2014.
Iraq is now going through a critical period. After 2003, the Kurdistan Region agreed to unify under a constitutional framework. This Constitution was ratified by 80% of Iraqis in a 2005 vote. It recognized that Iraq is comprised of two main nationalities, Kurds and Arabs. It codified that rights and responsibilities would be based on "political consensus and true as well as balanced partnership" within a federal system. This system governs the relationship between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government, and is the basis for our ongoing participation in the Iraqi system. Thousands of families from other parts of Iraq have evacuated their original homes and headed to the Kurdistan Region. Among them, 12 thousand Christian families fled from other parts in Iraq and headed to Kurdistan Region.
Our policy in the Kurdistan Region is transparent and clear. As long as Iraq adheres to democracy and to the agreed constitution, we find ourselves glad to be a part of the federal system. However, if the Iraqi Government instead chooses to abandon the principles of the Constitution and heads again toward authoritarianism and exclusion in decision-making, we as the people of Kurdistan will not and cannot tolerate living in a dictatorship again. In this case, the people of Kurdistan will have to exercise their free right to make a choice.
The Middle East itself is engaged in a sensitive transition packed with quick and unforeseen change. We have shown our full support for the rights of all peoples to decide for themselves what sort of political expression they will have, and to broaden the spectrum of freedom and democracy to this end. Nevertheless, we also believe that no radical power should take advantage of the peoples' struggle in order to disseminate values of violence and vengeance.
In this context, we support the demands of the Syrian People to have a democratic and plural system and to exercise their right to choose their future this is very important to us as Syria is home to more than 2 million Kurds that have long been denied even the most basic right of citizenship. We hope that any changes in Syria will bring and guarantee the rights and aspirations of all ethnic and religious components.
We reiterate our support for the peaceful, non-violence, democratic solution for the Kurdish issue in other parts of Kurdistan.
Again, we thank you for inviting us to this congress. We hope the relationship between the KDP and other respectful parties attending this event develops and strengthens, and that we can identify more areas of coordination for the mutual benefit of the peoples we serve.