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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani’s Speech at the opening ceremony of Meltho International School

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today attended the opening ceremony of Meltho International School alongside President of Hungary, Katalin Novák.

The following is the full transcript of the Prime Minister’s speech:

President Katalin Novák
Distinguished guests

Not long ago, the gardens and churches of this neighbourhood were a refuge for families fleeing the savagery of terrorism. All around us, Christians, Yazidis and other groups from the Nineveh Plains and elsewhere took shelter as their homes and communities were over-run by a menacing force that threatened to shred our ways of life. Ainkawa was a regional epicentre of the fightback against Isis in 2014, and ever since then it has been a place where hope and coexistence has re-emerged. Hungary was one of many nations, which responded to the pressing humanitarian calls of those dark times and I am very pleased President Novak is here with us today.

Hungary’s efforts to support displaced communities remains very much recognised in the KRG. During that time of suffering, we offered sanctuary to more than two million people from Iraq and Syria, who were nourished and protected by our Government and society. We could not have done that without the backing of our friends in the international community, and it gives me pleasure to thank you and the people of Hungary, Madam President, for the support you gave us in our collective time of need.

The fruits of those efforts are clear. Look around Ankawa; you’ll find a flourishing community of new cathedrals, bustling shops and people who are rebuilding their lives free from tyranny. Ainkawa, and the alchemy of coexistence that thrives here, is a community that is a source of pride to us all.

Today we celebrate the establishment of Meltho International School here in Ankawa. I would like to thank the Hungarian government for their efforts in supporting education in the Kurdistan Region. My government has prioritized this crucial sector as I believe it is the backbone for building a stronger Kurdistan. Just two days ago I was pleased to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the British International University in Erbil. Another major step in developing the skills of our people. These are the types of projects I strongly encourage and you have my government’s full support.

Ensuring access to world-class education is a top priority for my government as we build on our commitment to become a Knowledge Nation. The power of learning, of critical thinking and academic development is transformational. Knowledge and the empowerment to act on it will be the essence to our future growth, and the development of our society. It is the best form
of investment in our youth.

Our students and future graduates must have the skills to compete for jobs both here and abroad. A well-equipped nation can tackle the pressing issues of today and tomorrow. A nation of pioneers can lead with the next innovative idea. I am confident that we will continue building a well educated society that will help achieve this goal through startups, innovation, and more.

We very much hope that the school we are inaugurating today will serve as a building block for our society, and for communities elsewhere in the region. Our Christian brothers and sisters have the same needs and aspirations as us and we will always welcome partnerships in knowledge and learning.

As part of our knowledge evolution, we have moved to ensure that standards in our education sector are high. This year, we established the country’s first national accreditation body, which will partner with international accreditation agencies to underpin a higher level of learning and training.

We have the confidence to do a lot more, and we will. The human capital of our people is largely untapped, and remains a vast resource. Education, and knowledge are the linchpins of all that we will go on to do. The future is there for the taking.

Madam President, we thank you for your visit to Erbil and for your country’s investment in the future of the people of our region. My Government gives you a commitment that your money has been well spent. You have changed the lives of scores of people already.

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