Your Exellencies, Ladies and gentlemen Honoured guests. It gives me great pleasure to stand before you this evening and welcome You Denmark’s leading Kurds and friends of the Kurds to the first Kurd Gala to be held in Denmark. For three years now the Gala has been a yearly event in Sweden and to see it finally happening in Denmark is a truly heartwarming experience.
Dear guests, we are gathered here this evening because we share a common interest - that of Kurdistan and its people.
It is thanks to many of you present here today, both Danes and Kurds that our people have been given the opportunity to be h eard and to be acknowledged. Not only in times of war persecution, and genocide, but also in a more a positive and promising light when referring to entrepreneurship, democratization and globalization.
We are gathered here today to celebrate the many positive achievements that have left a noticeable mark on the Kurdish society. During the times of hardship Denmark was a valuable friend and offered shelter for those seeking refuge from oppressing nations.
Generous aid has also been channeled through active NGO’s such as Care4You providing much needed assistance in the form of; hospital equipment supplies for schools and support to women’s organisations. Denmark also played an important role in the liberation of Iraq of which we are truly grateful. In the past, the Kurds in Denmark were oftentimes associated with a people fleeing persecution and seeking shelter and assistance. This picture is slowly changing. We see many Kurdish children who were once given a safe haven in Denmark now form part of a generation of successful individuals who contribute to the Danish society on a daily basis.
It is a generation: that breathes ambition. A generation that is very much aware of the opportunities that they have at hand and very much aware of what is missing in their homeland. An active and dynamic youth is a fundamental pillar for a nation’s success and prosperity.
In the Iraqi Kurdistan Region more than half of the population are under the age of 20 which implies that the question of our youth’s welfare is directly related to the future development of the Kurdistan Region. As Kurdistan’s first Minister of Sports and Youth I consider it a priority to ensure that sports and youth issues form an integral part of the Region’s political agenda while assessing the interests of the youth and transforming them into attainable projects. An important goal for my Ministry is to learn from Nordic working methods and to introduce them to the Kurdistan Region.
A group of professional Kurds from Sweden are currently working at the Ministry, implementing a Nordic –inspired protocol for-organizational development, administrative procedures and accountability and transparency. For the many Kurds who have returned back to the Kurdistan Region after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime the ties to the Nordic Countries and Denmark remain strong. One step to reinforce this natural connection is to form a friendship association between Denmark and the Kurdistan Region which we hope to launch within short.
The ties to Denmark however are best preserved by Danish presence in the Region and we are working hard to make Danish companies see the endless investment opportunities that exist. We also invite Danish politicians and authorities to witness how democracy is being integrated in all spheres of society at first hand. Kurdistan is progressing rapidly and the opportunities are many.
The Kurdistan Regional Government has laid the foundation for one of the most investment-friendly laws in the world with the purpose of ensuring foreign company’s interests and encouraging them to be part of the Region’s promising development.
The federal constitution in Iraq is also well integrated with the laws in the Kurdistan Region and as a part of the federal Iraq the Kurdistan Region is an open door for investments with the rest of Iraq. Much is being done to encourage the many actors working for an improved Kurdistan Region in various fields. During 2007 we handed out an award to encourage those working towards the elimination of violence against women.
And, last week we organised a Sports gala to heighten the awareness of physical activity and its benefits on a society’s health. The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzanisends his warmest greetings to you all here tonight.
He has been granted a new mandate and together with the Kurdistan Regional Government continues to work for unity, peace and prosperityHowever, there is still so much to be done and we are more than aware that the load is too heavy to carry alone My hope lies with you sitting here tonight to share with us your know-how your experience, your insight.
The Nordic countries have already contributed considerably to the Kurdish Region in our work for democratisation, the activation of youth and the strengthening of the civil society. Friends, we have come a long way and this Gala is evidence of this achievement.
This evening we celebrate our success and not as before when only our grievances gathered us!
May the Kurdistan Region go from strength to strength and may the dawn of our democracy see the light of a brighter future.
I wish you all a continued pleasant evening.