Minister Falah Mustafa’s Remarks on the Occasion of U.S. Independence Day

H.E. President Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region

H.E. Ambassador Stuart Jones, US ambassador to Iraq

CG Matthias Mitman, Consul General of the United States in Kurdistan Region

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening to you all,

I am pleased and privileged to be part of this important celebration, which is the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. Please allow me, Mr. President, on behalf of the people and government of Kurdistan to congratulate the people and government of the United States on this significant day in the history of the US.

On this special occasion, we celebrate the birth of America as a free and independent nation. Independence Day is not only a day that Americans celebrate, but also other people around the world celebrate freedom, liberty and democracy. The US is a global leader and we are proud of the relationship that has developed between our peoples and governments. We, the people of Kurdistan, view the United States as true friends and allies and hope to see our ties develop into a strong strategic partnership.

We still remember the days when we were suffering from the oppression by the former regime. 25 years ago, the United States came in to help by establishing the safe haven and imposing the no-fly zone above the 36th parallel line to ensure our safety. That marked the foundation of our long-term partnership with the US. Again in 2003, we entered another stage when we worked together to liberate Iraq from tyranny and dictatorship. A decade later, after the emergence of ISIL in 2014, the US once again came in to provide much-needed assistance and support to help Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq to fight these brutal terrorists. Today, the US plays a leading role in the international coalition against ISIL. This war has been a tough, bloody and a costly war in terms of human lives, as well as resources but the war is not over yet.

We count on continued support from our friends in the international community and also appreciate the humanitarian assistance provided to the internally displaced people and refugees.

In addition to the two important areas of the fight against ISIL and the humanitarian crisis, we expect more engagement from the US in dealing with the economic crisis. Having said that, we want our relations to expand and broaden with a focus on education, culture, economy, trade, business and other areas that are pillars of strong bilateral ties. I thank the US Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil for the great cooperation. Also, the KRG appreciates the educational opportunities, particularly the Fulbright scholarship and other human capacity building programs.

The continued high-level visits from US officials to Kurdistan Region are an additional significant sign of the attention that the US places on Kurdistan and vice versa. We have been working together and we will continue to work together for the sake of stability, security and prosperity in the Region. I would like to once again emphasize that we share the same universal values and principles. Because of the strong vision of our leadership, the bravery of our Peshmerga, the resilience of our people and our collective commitment towards a better future, we have been able to survive the worst situations.

Yes, it is a challenging time, but we also see the opportunity for us to implement the reform strategy and agenda, and we are optimistic about a better and more prosperous future for the people of Kurdistan. The American dream, including its road to independence, is a source of inspiration for the people of Kurdistan and many other people around the world. We look forward to the day that the people of Kurdistan can also celebrate their independence day. Thank you again and I wish you all a very happy independence day.