The dash for modernity

By H.E. the Rt. Hon. William Hague MP
UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreword in the official KRG investment guide Invest in Democracy *

I am delighted to contribute to “Invest in Democracy” and to set out some thoughts on the future of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The region is going through a period of dynamic change – much of it for the good. After a long period of isolation, suffering and uncertainty, the Kurdistan Region is now characterised by engagement with the outside world, growing prosperity and increasing confidence in the future. It is quite a turnaround and makes the Kurdistan Region one of the major success stories of Iraq.

Buoyed by a strong and stable security and political environment, the region is going through a ‘dash for modernity’. Kurdistan is proud of its traditions, the sense of family, of loyalty to the community and its sense of identity that has been toughened through resistance to persecution. But the region is no longer inward-looking. This is a time of renewal and energy.

A visitor to Erbil, particularly, would be struck by the current consumer and construction boom. Large and small shopping malls are springing up downtown, as are prosperous gated ‘villages’, hotels and amusement parks. Much of this progress is encapsulated in Erbil’s gleaming, smart and secure new international airport – which I am delighted British expertise had a hand in delivering.

Given the good security situation and the energy of its people, Kurdistan finds itself in a position to road test plans and projects on behalf of the rest of Iraq. Central to this and the region’s success is the policy of engagement. The region’s relations with Turkey have gone through a sea change over the last few years. That is a testament to both sides commitment to look to the future not the past. I write as Prime Minister-designate Maliki is trying to compose a new government, some eight months after the election; a breakthrough which the Kurdish bloc and President Barzani personally played a significant role in bringing about.

Successful and energetic engagement with Baghdad is vital to the region’s future: a lesson that is not lost on the region’s political leadership. There is still much to do to get Baghdad-Erbil relations to where they should be. The top priority is passing legislation on revenue sharing and hydrocarbons, which will enable the development of Iraq’s oil and gas wealth in one political and economic sphere.

What role can the UK play in the economic development of the region? The UK is a world leader in financial services and investment advice. The UK is a springboard for growth for companies from around the world. Our hydrocarbons companies lead the world in know-how and responsible, sustainable development. Our consultants and engineers have a global reputation for delivering world-class projects, as well as basic infrastructure needs, including schools, hospitals and health centres. Our SME sector is vibrant, innovative and internationally savvy.

The size of the UK presence at the Erbil Trade Fair in October, led by UK Trade and Investment CEO Sir Andrew Cahn, was evidence of the range of the UK offer and of the strong interest present in the UK in forging stronger trade & investment links with Kurdistan. UK companies have already had some success. We are looking to build on that and my officials in Erbil stand ready to help.

* Invest in Democracy will soon be available for download on the website.

5 Responses to The dash for modernity
  1. Dilshad Xoshnaw
    June 24, 2011 | 12:02

    Generally nice and good willing comments by Mr. William Hague.
    This is really good publicity that would cost a fortune if you would have to use the usual channels such as media advertisement.

    Unfortunately all those nice words can’t cover the fact that the British and the Americans have sent out a desasterous signal since 2003 by staying out of Kurdistan in terms of investment and their diplomatic representation.

    They haven’t invested any meaningful amounts yet. Only recently the UK has started investing a bit more but far less than Turkey and the arab counties.

    US investments are next to none ad they haven’t managed yet to open a Consulate in Hewler.

    This combination of no-investments and no diplomatic representations has shown the rest of the world that even the “libeators of Iraq” didn’t have the confidence that Kurdisan has a future and it is worth to engage in investment and doing business apart of the responsbilty of the US and UK to help reconstruct Kurdistan because they have always alleged that they are bringing democracy and rebuild the country.

    This is one of the main reasons why the big players have stayed out of any serious investment in Kurdistan.
    Most EU countries are missing like Germany, France, Span, Benelux etc. in addition to Cina, Japan and Russia.

  2. Balen Jamal
    June 24, 2011 | 13:14

    “invest in democracy” and shoot the hell out of civilians with live bullets, protect two families’ shopping molls, gated villages, and 5-star hotels, etc. “invest in democracy” and pass laws that forbid gathering and allow for assassinations of journalists. What a load of crap! These morally corrupt western officials have become so rich out of the oil business of Kurdistan that you wouldn’t expect anything from them but “invest in democracy”! I have been pro-west and pro-USA for the last few years but, in the events of the recent changes in the ME, I see how dictators are created and protected in the region by the west and now I know why; it is all about personal gain of morally corrupt western politicians. It is not about oil at the state level; it is about money at personal level. What a shame!

  3. Hawar Osman
    June 24, 2011 | 23:41

    Balen, relax Kaka, come visit us in Hewler and then go to Dar3a or Misrata or Aden then talk about live bullets

  4. Baqi Barzani
    June 25, 2011 | 09:42

    If everyone works in his profession and performs his part, if our economists sketch economy plans for Kurdistan, law enforcement be in charge of enforcing the rule of law, politician be doing politics, lecturers be lecturing in universities and our military be liable for defense affairs, most of our dilemmas will be resolved.

  5. Farhad Aziz
    August 16, 2011 | 19:21

    The development of Kurdistan and building a democratic state lies in the hands of his people, we should not depend on others because there is no friendship but there is interests thus in order to progress and sustain our achievent we have to be united , realistic and to measure every step of our doings

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