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Britain’s Economic Presence Below Desired Level- Kurdish Official | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Arbil, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ms Bayan Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government High Representative to the UK, praised the relationship between her government and Britain. In a statement made to Asharq Al-Awsat in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region, Ms Abdul Rahman said “Everybody knows that Britain has played an important role in the liberation of Iraq, and that it continues to play a similar role in the ongoing political process in Iraq. [Britain] is aware that the Kurdish leadership has an important and pivotal role in the overall political process in the country, by way of the [Kurdish] MPs and the senior Kurdish officials in government.”

She added “In my personal opinion, the Kurds will receive a significant proportion of the vote in the upcoming parliamentary election in Iraq in 2010 as the [Kurdish] region – in a general manner – plays an important and critical role in Iraq. This is why we believe that Britain has high regard for the Regional Government and deals with it in a serious manner.”

As for the British economic presence in the region, Bayan Abdul Rahman informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is not at the level that we desire.”

With regards to the process of repatriating Kurdish refugees who have settled in Britain, Ms Abdul Rahman said “Any such agreement must be implemented between two completely sovereign countries, not between a country and a region within a country. The process of repatriating asylum seekers to their countries [of origin] is not limited to Kurdish or Iraqi refugees in particular, but this includes all those who come from abroad, such as those from African countries, Afghanistan, and others. For our part, we unremittingly confirm to the British government that we oppose the forcible return of Kurdish refugees to the region while at the same time welcoming the voluntary return of Kurdish refugees to their homeland. The British government has offered financial aid to help them [repatriated refugees] to find suitable employment opportunities in their countries [of origin].”

As for the recent case of a Kurdish defendant being handed over to the British judicial authorities, Ms Bayan Abdul Rahman informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “There is an agreement between Iraq and Britain that – I believe – dates back to 1933. This agreement obliges the British authorities to hand over any Iraqi citizen that is wanted by the Iraqi judicial authorities, even if this citizen is a British resident. It also obliges the Iraqi authorities to hand over any individual, accused or wanted, by the British courts, whether this individual is British or Iraqi. The extradition of the defendant in question has taken place under the provision of this agreement. For our part, we want to clarify to everybody that the Kurdistan Regional Government does not allow any citizen or individual to commit a crime in any country and then flee from justice by hiding in Kurdistan.”