Sir John Major was a one-man genocide prevention unit.

Remarks by Karwan Jamal Tahir, KRG High Representative to the UK, at the rally on the 30th anniversary of the safe haven and no-fly zone.

Today is a historic day for the United Kingdom’s history and the Kurdish nation’s history; therefore, it is worthwhile celebrating together and being proud of our shared achievements.

Thirty years ago today, it was proven that humans are living in an integrated and connected world. No longer were the oppressed people left to their own limited resources and determination to resist and defy challenges to their very existence. That reality came to light with the endorsement of UN Security Council Resolution 688 that calls on states to rescue a nation from further genocide.

This resolution was endorsed and implemented through Sir John Major’s bold initiative in Iraqi Kurdistan that advocated for a safe-haven, saving a whole nation from further genocide.

That decision in realpolitik is called a game changer. It rightly constituted a subjective transformation in international policy towards the responsibility to protect. I’m pleased that the British government’s recent comprehensive review will create a Conflict Prevention Centre that would make the UK respond more effectively and use all its resources to meet its diplomatic goals. Some atrocities and conflicts could have been prevented if this Conflict Prevention Centre had existed 30 years ago. In our case, Sir John Major was a one-man genocide prevention unit.

In addition to the international implications, the UNSC resolution 688 also had regional and internal ramifications. The resolution helped save the Kurdish nation from further mass atrocities and shone a light on the Kurdish people’s plight. Ever since then, we have been able to govern ourselves and achieve immense progress in many areas.

Today, we thank Sir John Major and argue that as much as the decision was necessary then, it is even more important today in preserving the success story of the Kurdistan Region and in ensuring that the Kurdistan Region continues to be a force of stability and prosperity in the Middle East.

The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and the former Prime Minister of the UK, and distinguished speakers before me, said much about the importance of the safe haven and its outcome. I don’t want to repeat what has been said, but I, as representative of a nation that has been rescued and saved 30 years ago from elimination, now I am proudly representing them within the legal and constitutional framework here in the UK, which I have been mandated to promote deeper bilateral relationship with the UK at all levels.

It is with great pleasure and pride I will highlight some significant developments in our bilateral relationship.

Our Representation is working steadfastly to expand ties between our two nations through government to government relations, scientific and education associations, as well as cultural connections. We work with officials and business bodies to further develop areas of cooperation between the KRI and Britain.

With respect to parliamentary affairs, our good friends, MPs and Peers have demonstrated their interest in Kurdistan through the APPG on Kurdistan Region for the last 15 years. They have played an instrumental role in promoting and securing a link that builds on our longstanding relationship. This successful rally is a testament to our long and deep friendship.

As for the economy, we have for long sought robust bilateral economic relations. Many British companies operate in Kurdistan. We encourage other British companies to pursue business endeavours in an emerging market where there is a wealth of opportunities and a great demand for British expertise across multiple sectors, especially agriculture and tourism.

We also enjoy excellent educational ties and collaborations between the Kurdish and UK universities on a range of projects, including gender studies, Life Science and Medicine, and Archaeology, amongst many other fields.

Additionally, culture also plays a vital role in shaping our bilateral relations with the UK. We thank the UK government and the British Museum for supporting the Kurdish archaeologists to preserve our rich cultural heritage and restore parts that were damaged by conflicts.

We share values, and interests, as it has been rightly reiterated recently by the Rt Hon James Cleverly the FCDO minister, who emphasised how our many shared interests and values align, including a strong: belief in diversity, tolerance, and publicly stated commitment to preventing extremism amongst many others things.

The KRG is grateful for this longstanding partnership with the UK. Many milestones have already been achieved, and we hope that through the continuation and amelioration of this relationship, we can better serve our mutual interests in promoting peace and security in the wider region.

We highly appreciate the British government’s emphasis on a strong Kurdistan Region

Indeed, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my profound gratitude to British public opinion then and now, which has become ever more supportive.

I would also like to acknowledge the role of the Kurdish diaspora in the UK as a very active community within the British multicultural society, who have played their role in swaying public opinion, engaging influential figures, and lobbying for decision-makers to take a serious position towards the catastrophe. We value and appreciate the active and productive community in the UK, which has contributed to many areas of progress.

As the representative of the KRG, I express our sincere thanks to our dear friends in both Houses of Parliament who continuously acknowledge the Kurdish question and has been very supportive to the Kurdistan Region.

I would like to salute the victims that dedicated their life and fallen in the freezing mountains 30 years ago during the Kurdish exodus.

Thanks to all who have helped and supported us to become what we are now, including Sir John Major and all those men and women from the armed forces. In fact, we are joined today by the distinguished Jason McCartney MP and Captain Tom Hardie Forsyth.

Thanks also to British journalists, photographers, and reporters that brought to light the plight of the Kurdish people worldwide.

My particular thanks to APPG and our good friends that have been a driving force in supporting Kurdistan and strengthening our bilateral relations on many fronts.

8th April 2021

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