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PM's speech at opening of Ishik University in Erbil
SAT, 22 NOV 2008 21:06
Erbil, 22 November 2008
Speech by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, good day to you all and welcome.
I would like to very warmly welcome Turkey’s Members of Parliament and Turkey’s Consul General to Mosul, as well as all those guests who have come from Turkey. We are delighted that you are here today.
I am pleased and privileged today to participate with you in this opening ceremony of the private Ishik University in Erbil. This is another encouraging step in the field of education in the Region.
The opening of this university today is an important event in the developmental process of education in the Region, as well as being helpful to the political process. The opening of this university signifies the building of another bridge in our relations that will take us towards the right approach.
At the same time it paves the way for the implementation of the policies we have initiated to expand our relations with our neighbours, including Turkey, other countries in the Middle East and countries throughout the world.
If you would allow me, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by making a few points about the state of higher education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
In looking at the number of students today, we can see that we have more students in colleges and universities than at any other time in our history.
Our classes are full of bright and talented youth at all levels, and they will soon take on important responsibilities in our society, both in the public and private sectors.
Today we are preparing the establishment of a progressive and advanced society. Therefore we are trying hard to prepare thousands of our young people in the fields of foreign languages, engineering, medicine, technical and computer sciences and other sciences.
We ask for further participation from students and teachers in this educational process, and we ask them to pay attention to the needs of the region.
At the same time, we request that students carry a strong sense of responsibility and seriousness in the education process and in building and securing their future and the future of our people.
We in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) try to provide a conducive environment that provides suitable professional opportunities, based on the need for such positions. The basis for such employment after graduation from university should be competence and experience.
It is true that government service is a noble undertaking. We know that this service is a source of pride, and those governmental employees have the right to look to the future with pride, particularly because many have contributed to government efforts during our most difficult times.
But we have to bear in mind that we should not expect all university graduates to be appointed to government positions each year.
There are many cases in which new graduates enter the civil service and become part of our government work force. But at the same time we want graduates to rely on the private sector and on the business community. And we want the private sector to be capable of providing suitable work opportunities for our young people.
Here I would like to state that it is our duty to provide proper opportunities and to develop the private sector and enhance investment. And in this regard much work has been done; for example, through the passage of the Investment Law and the establishment of the Investment Board.
Therefore our eyes are focused on the private sector, so that they can feel responsible at this stage and join us in providing the needed opportunities for university graduates, helping them become part of a dynamic and capable work force in the private sector.
We in the KRG have stated in the past, and I will state with conviction now, that we want the private sector to be the engine of our economic development. The public and private sectors must be complementary and strengthen each other.
Higher education has a key role to play here, in presenting a suitable learning environment and making available the necessary education for university students. This can be done through training courses that can guarantee success in a student’s chosen field in the private sector.
For example, there may now be some training courses on management and administration. But we need more attention to be paid to preparing university graduates for the fields of banking, accounting, auditing, finance, marketing, production, investment promotion and managerial processes, and in addition, information technology.
We all know that we have shortcomings in those fields. I regret to say that our education system has not yet reached the level we wish it to achieve. True, there has been some progress, but it is not as substantial as it should be. For this reason we must all put forth a concerted effort to improve and to help overcome in our shortcomings.
We want to see fundamental changes in the education process. When we talk about change, we mean changing the style and method of education, the programmes, and updating and renewing the system in a way that matches global progress and international technology, as well as the needs of our government and our communities.
There are many occasions when foreign companies come to the Kurdistan Region, and they need experienced and capable staff in administration and finance. As they are not able to find such expertise and skills in the Region, unfortunately they are obliged to bring foreigners from abroad for expertise.
Therefore we all must try to nurture and prepare a capable, experienced and talented work force right here in the Region, so that they are able to participate within the framework of today’s global market, a highly competitive market. This will allow graduates to secure reliable and quality employment and improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Here I would like to say that the Fezalar Company has been providing its educational services in the region since 1994. And I am pleased to see that Ishik University has paid attention to the development of our most important sectors that I mentioned earlier and that are needed in the Kurdistan Region; especially in the fields of management, administration and computer engineering - and further, that the courses in this university are conducted in the English language.
Therefore I would kindly request the President of the University and faculty members to promote this special training faithfully with us, so that they play a leading role in the preparation and development of a generation of future leaders in both the public and private sector, in order to advance our Region.
This project will be a source of support in addressing the current issues that we face in higher education and education in general throughout the Region. A particular issue with which we are dealing is the lack of space in universities for high school graduates. We very much hope that we will be able to find a suitable solution to this problem.
But we have to remember that our students should look at the educational process seriously and focus their attention on this process in order to gain a high level of understanding. Today the world has changed and our community has to work hard to participate in the global market in order to compete with other advanced societies.
I would also like say a few words about the importance of this university opening in Erbil as a symbol of and a hope for a deepening relationship between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and our neighbour, Turkey.
We all know that there is a long history of relations with Turkey, dating back many years. If we look at the history of our relationship carefully, we will see that it has seen its ups and downs. But I am pleased today to tell you, with conviction, that we are approaching a new stage in our relationship.
We always want to build friendly relations with all countries of the world. Turkey, as a well-situated neighbouring country is important to us.
I am confident that the future of our relationship is a bright and positive one. Our understanding of one another’s views and visions are an encouraging factor in the establishment of this relationship politically, economically, socially, culturally and educationally.
I believe that the people and the government of Turkey desire the same relationship and goal. And if we both work with the same spirit and pursue the same objective, I am optimistic about the outcome of the efforts made in this regard. At the same time, we want the media and news outlets from both sides to be cooperative in strengthening this relationship.
We understand the concerns of our neighbour Turkey, and they have a better understanding of our position, and also the challenges facing us. Our position is clear. We are for normal and good neighbourly relations with Turkey.
We are confident that our future ties with Turkey can be built on a strong foundation for the future, based on four pillars:
1. Growing mutual economic benefit through commercial activities and the promotion of investment in the Kurdistan Region.
2. Enhanced dialogue and earnest cooperation in understanding the realities of the situation, and the building of mutual confidence and trust.
3. Respecting each other and assuring non-interference in internal affairs, while at the same time respecting border security concerns and national sovereignty.
4. Increased understanding of the realities on the ground, and respect for the unique political circumstances on each side through our full confidence in the peaceful settlement of key issues.
We have much to do in order to strengthen relations with Turkey. We have to remember that it was only in recent months that we entered the phase of rapprochement and the initiation of dialogue. But I would also like to say that all signs are positive and encourage successful dialogue.
The Kurdistan Region of Iraq desires the establishment and advancement of very good relations with Turkey in all aspects, as friends, neighbours, and main partners in economic and commercial activity. This applies not only for the Kurdistan Region, but for all of Iraq.
The establishment of Ishik University is a step that advances these relations, while at the same time serving as an academic and intellectual centre. We can promote open and public dialogue by inviting intellectuals and educators from both sides to the campus.
And this project will be a factor to allay the potential lack of trust between the two sides, and also to bring forth a realistic understanding in the intentions and objectives of both neighbouring peoples, in the interest of both sides. We consider dialogue as the optimal solution for all issues and misunderstandings. Better understanding must continue on both sides.
We all know that universities are places that are filled with promise and hope for the future and are helpful in realising the dreams of our youth. It is clear that the talents and capabilities of our young people develop in the university, and they pursue their aspirations by attending the university.
I hope that Ishik University will become the centre where both the academic aspirations of our students and our government’s aspirations for a good and strong relationship with Turkey are realised.
I would like to reiterate the KRG’s full support of this and similar projects, and stress that the KRG will continue to support such projects in the future, within the framework of our attention to the education sector and increasing services for the people of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq.
Again I would like to thank and commend you all for your efforts. I thank each and every individual participating in this important project. I commend all of you who stayed with and continued to support us since 1994, through the difficult times. My thanks go to the President of the University and to the Board of Trustees for their strong support for this project.
Thank you very much.
See also the press release:
Prime Minister Barzani and Turkish MPs attend the opening of Ishik University in Erbil
For more information about Ishik University, please visit
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