As we celebrate this important milestone, let’s remember the considerable progress we have made since the formation of our government 25 years ago. Our society has overcome many hurdles and experienced great achievements, but challenges certainly remain.
Many sectors of our economy and government services have experienced drastic improvements, including an increase in domestic and foreign investment, and the number of schools as well as improved literacy rates, health facilities and services resulting in decreased infant and child mortality rates.
The security of our region is a supremely important aspect of our strategy and vision. This secure environment has provided the foundation needed for the growth of our Region, such as the rapid rise in urban development, major infrastructure projects, and expansion of telecommunications, all working to bring us on par with the modern world.
We have managed to build and sustain Kurdistan against all odds. We have created a tolerant culture and society based on peaceful coexistence and increasing efforts towards achieving the rule of law and fight against corruption. Our homeland has been transformed from an impoverished region without presence on the international stage, to a region that is now globally recognized.
We have representatives in over 14 countries and more than 40 countries and international organizations have official representation in our capital.
We understand that not all aspects of life and society have improved. Indeed, in certain cases the situation has worsened. This was largely the result of the emergence of ISIS on our doorstep and increased financial constraints due to the federal government’s suspension of the Kurdistan Region’s constitutionally mandated share of Iraq’s national budget.
These limitations severely affected our ability to provide and improve our services. Nevertheless, the Region is once again showing signs of progress and growth.
As we mark a new stage in our history, we can be proud of our achievements and progress since the formation of our government. We have seen our country recover from our former depressed economic state and from the fight against terrorism. We have been able to build an inclusive safe haven that welcomes all peoples regardless of their ethnicity and religion as evidenced by sheltering close to two million forcibly displaced people who have fled for safety and security to our Region. We have sacrificed dearly for all that we have achieved as we fought on behalf of the world to ensure freedom, prosperity, and democracy.
Despite severe difficulties we face, I am confident we have a peaceful and prosperous future ahead of us. We will embrace globalization, technology, and modernity, maintain our principles of inclusivity, tolerance and honor our rich cultural heritage.