MESOP: PUTIN ARRIVES IN ERBIL – Russia is seeking economic cooperation with Iraqi Kurds

13 June 2016 – Russia’s Consul General in Erbil Viktor Simakov stated that Russia expects to develop and resume joint projects with Iraqi Kurdistan following the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, set to be attended by a high-level delegation led by the autonomous region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.

Simakov noted that Russia and Iraqi Kurdistan laid out plans for several joint projects two years ago, during a Russian delegation’s visit to the region. “The Kurdish autonomous region’s delegation to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will be headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, as well as the planning minister will be part of the delegation as well,” Simakov was quoted by Sputnik news agency as saying.

Russia has “great hopes for this delegation’s visit, because there are major opportunities for economic cooperation between Russia, Russian regions and Iraqi Kurdistan,” according to the diplomat.

“[Russia] could make a significant contribution to the development of the processing industry of Iraqi Kurdistan,” Simakov said, pointing out agriculture as another possible area of cooperation.

“Considering the large amount of refugees who arrived with the first wave…this has become an unbearable burden for the Kurdish autonomous region’s economy. The population of Iraqi Kurdistan is 5 million and they’ve taken in 1.5 million people according to UN estimates. The Iraqi Kurdistan population has grown by a third. Its government is now paying great attention to expanding agricultural land to deal with the issue of feeding the refugees. They are interested in our agricultural technologies and equipment,” he said.