Jumat, Agustus 22, 2008

PM’s speech to Iraqi governors and ministers at economic conference

Dear honourable guests, good morning and welcome to this event. I would like to welcome everybody to Erbil, the capital, to participate in this important event. I would also like to warmly welcome the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Dr. Rafi’ al-Isawi, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, General Hertling, ministers, governors, and all participants.

I am glad to be present with you and to participate in this important conference regarding cooperation and coordination among the Kurdistan Region and the Northern Governorates, and focusing on projects and development efforts in these governorates.

Today in Iraq we have a unique opportunity. There is fertile ground for a democratic and federal state to emerge so that we can serve our people and reconstruct our country. A country that has long suffered from a totalitarian regime that brought war and destruction to Iraq. We are one of the new states in the world in many respects. But at the same time we should be careful not to make the error of assuming that history started the day Iraq was liberated.

We in Iraq – Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and all other constituencies – have experienced tragedies, hardship, and difficult times. This is why we are now trying to build a new Iraq, so that those sad days will not be repeated, and so that we can secure a bright future for the people of Iraq. Therefore we should watch our steps carefully so as not to allow that history to be repeated or the mistakes of the past to resurface.

After the liberation of Iraq we have decided voluntarily to work together to rebuild Iraq, because we understood that the Iraqi Constitution guarantees our rights and protects us from any oppression.

That is why we, in the Kurdistan Region, consider the Iraqi Constitution as a reminder and an instrument that pays attention to historical aspects. We have to protect ourselves from mistakes and injustices in the future. We believe that after erecting a federal, democratic and pluralistic system in Iraq, the constitution will be the strong legal foundation that will help us live together in peace and stability in our Region – a Region which can enjoy strong and close relations with the central federal government.

The principle of a central authority empowering regional governments and governorates is being practices almost all over the world, and we can benefit from the experiences of other nations. Many countries today are reviewing their governmental structure and style in order to move the decision-making process closer to the people via regional, provincial and local governments.

Modern governing systems have demonstrated that local and regional authorities are more responsible to their people, more efficient, more active in their work, and less burdened by bureaucracy and administrative complications. Many countries of the European Union adhere to the principle of devolving power to lower levels because they came to the conclusion long ago that issues and questions relevant to the people are handled most effectively and more quickly when given to regions and provinces.

Since the liberation of Iraq, in cooperation with the Coalition forces and friends of our people, efforts continue to establish a democratic, federal, transparent and active system in Iraq, a civilised system that will be aligned with modern norms. The manner in which federalism is to be enacted was agreed upon by Iraqi parties so that authority would never be accumulated by a central government and decisions would not be made unilaterally. Sharing power in Iraq is necessary so that all the people throughout Iraq can participate, will not be deprived of their rights or wishes, and will not be far from the decision-making process. And that is why any decision or law should respect the rights of the people and also the authority and wishes of the regions and governorates.

We in the KRG have insisted on maintaining the principle of distribution of power in our own internal dealings with local governments, and in our dealings with the federal government. And we have looked to advanced nations for examples – to the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and elsewhere – where we have found power-sharing has a positive effect on improving government performance and allowing citizens to feel close to authorities.

The KRG seeks this kind of coordination with the Iraqi federal government, and simultaneously adheres to the same principles within the Kurdistan Region. We are working to move more power and authority within the KRG to the governorates and even to lower levels where possible. We believe that the closer authorities are to people, the more familiar they will be with the people’s needs.

We support programmes to develop the governorates, programmes for which funds have been directly allocated from the central government, that enable provinces to execute service projects according to their set plan. We in the KRG closely monitor the quality and method of the process regarding governorate development that is implemented by companies and governmental actors.

Here I address my speech directly to all the attendees, and say – let us first look for solutions at the local and regional level. Let us not assume that Baghdad has the answer to each and every problem and obstacle. Let us recognise that countries around the world are devolving power to regional authorities because they reached the conclusion that this would be more successful.

To be certain, we must understand that there are some powers that must be reserved for the federal government and this must be respected, because according to the constitution the powers of government have been defined. But when the competence of local and regional authorities is strong enough to handle an issue, then those authorities should always have the opportunity to do so.

Our people have long waited for a chance to live in a peaceful, stable society, within a democratic framework, and through this type of principled partnership we can build a new and strong federal Iraq where growth and prosperity can take root, and where freedom replaces dictatorship.

When it comes to services and infrastructure we have many shortcomings, but we have made serious efforts to solve some of these problems. I can say that to a significant degree we have made good progress. All of us know that the lack of electricity, not only in the Kurdistan Region but all over Iraq, is one such difficulty. We have turned to the private sector in our efforts to find a solution to this problem.

At the same time, in the fields of education, health, and agriculture, we have also put forth serious effort, and if we can cooperate, we will benefit from each other.

I hope this conference will be successful and achieve its intended aim. The Kurdistan Regional Government is once again glad to host this conference, which serves the interests of all the people of Iraq.

Such activity presents a platform for everybody to further dialogue, exchange views, and benefit from each other. I am confident that each honourable governor has his own ideas and experiences to share in this conference, so that he can highlight challenges and issues and explore suitable mechanisms to solve these problems. The spirit of working together and looking to the future will ensure that our efforts succeed. Once again, thank you for attending the conference and I wish you success.

Thank you.



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