Former UK PM opens British Consulate in Erbil

Former UK PM Sir John Major arrives in Erbil, opens British Consulate

Salahadin, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, – President Masoud Barzani on Saturday welcomed Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in his office in Salahaddin. Sir John Major played a major role in establishing a UN-mandated safe-haven for Iraqi Kurds following their mass exodus in the first Gulf War in 1991.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds fled the terror and persecution of the former Iraq regime. The allies, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, established a safe-haven and the subsequent no-fly zone to help the Kurdish refugees return to their homes and to establish a de-facto autonomous region, which continued until the fall of the Saddam regime in 2003. 

Later in the day, President Barzani and Sir John Major attended the official opening ceremony of the British Consulate General in Erbil as guests of honor.

“It’s a great honor and privilege to be here. Although I have been following the news of Iraqi Kurdistan for many years, I have long wanted to visit this region to see for myself the developments that have taken place,” said Sir Major addressing a gathering of KRG officials and foreign diplomats during the opening ceremony.

“I am honored to be here to open the British Consulate General in Erbil. This is a strong reiteration of the commitment of Britain to the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. I am also proud to have played a part in setting up a safe-haven back in 1991. You have set an example for the whole region on how to work toward democracy.

“The Kurdish people should be proud of themselves, and of their leadership, who have led this region to where it is today and for their wise polices of opening up the region to foreign investment and economic trade. We are also here to celebrate the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth,” said Sir John Major. He conveyed the greetings of Queen Elizabeth to President Barzani.

Later, President Barzani also addressed the gathering and after warmly welcoming and paying tribute to the former British Prime Minister for his decisive role in creating the safe-haven in Iraqi Kurdistan, said that the opening of this consulate in Erbil is a strong indication of the strength of our relations with Great Britain.

“We are all honored to have Sir John Major here in Kurdistan to participate in the official opening ceremony of the British Consulate General.  This will no doubt further strengthen the solid relationship between Iraq, and particularly the Kurdistan Region, on the one hand and the United Kingdom on the other hand.  The people of Kurdistan will never forget what you have done for them. I would also like to wish happy birthday to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth” said President Barzani.

President Barzani later hosted a dinner in the honor of Sir John Major in a restaurant in Erbil. New British Ambassador Michael Aaron and British Consul General in Erbil Chris Bowers accompanied Sir John Major.

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