Prime Minister Barzani’s Speech at the UKH 2023 commencement ceremony
First and foremost a very warm welcome to all of you who have gathered this evening to celebrate the commencement ceremony of the Class of 2023 of the University of Kurdistan – Hawler.
For all of you who are graduating, I congratulate you.
To the families here to witness this occasion, I thank you for the support you have offered to your sons and daughters.
University education is a team effort, and the roles that families play, the sacrifices they make is often overlooked.
I also want to thank faculty and lecturers for putting your education above their personal needs. At times, I’m sure, their own lives, and families, will have taken the backseat to give you the time you need to get better grades.
When I stood on this podium last year, I told the graduating class of the tremendous opportunities that awaited them as they considered their next steps in life. I also outlined an agenda for change driven by my government, which will transform the way we do business in Kurdistan, and how we interact with the world.
It was my hope then that these two synergies; the best and brightest of Kurdistani graduates on one hand, and the brave new world of global best practice on the other, would prove complimentary.
I’m pleased to report tonight that this is indeed happening; the momentum that we have generated is creating opportunities that I’d envisaged. Increasingly over the next few years, Kurdistani graduates will have access to a workforce that can truly tap into their skill sets and fulfill their potential.
To those of you here tonight that want to be challenged, or who want to challenge us with ideas, we have places for you. To those who want to carve out their niche as entrepreneurs, we have grants and loans available. Anyone who wants to join us on our journey of transformation is welcome to do so.
In the past year, we have diversified our agriculture sector, which we are now in the process of turning into a thriving export industry, which will be an engine room for many of our regions. We will need help with this. The supply chain to get products from farms to supermarket shelves involves several commercial and economic ecosystems, as well as stamina and dynamism, ingredients that you all have. We will need the help of graduates from multiple disciplines to achieve our potential in this emerging industry.
Our work to create a digital economy continues to evolve. Soon core transactions with our government will be conducted through digital payments, through a banking system that connects every Kurdistani with the global economy. We will have opportunities for graduates who want to help us consolidate this new and exciting sector, the success of which will unlock opportunities across our business sector.
my government will always prioritise education. I am committing to unlocking the potential of our greatest asset, our nation’s youth. The Kurdistan Region is on its way to becoming a knowledge nation; a nation that produces the next innovative ideas to tackle climate change, food security, and poverty; that invests in technology and digital start ups through public and private investment; and plays its role on the international stage to advance global issues.
In the past year, I have seen great promise and believe that our vision of a talented, skilled pool of young Kurdistanis coming together to drive change and innovation is in the process of being fulfilled. Some of you here tonight will no doubt go on to seek opportunities in some of the world’s leading academic institutions. I have a message to those who choose such a path; we will celebrate your success, and we will welcome you back with open arms. We embrace intellectual energy and accomplishments. And I guarantee you, we will create even more opportunities for you to come home and help build our nation.
I want to see every Kurdistani graduate have their voice in the matters of today and those that await us beyond the horizon.
The future that we aspire to is one in which our voice is heard among the community of nations. A place where ideas, innovation, hard work and enterprise help transform our society and shape the destiny of our people. A place where your hard work pays off and where you will be proud to call yourself nation builders.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is on offer today, a chance to sit at the table of those who want to build the Kurdish nation, drawing on the very best we have to offer and uniting to create an economy and society that fulfills our potential as a people.
We will give you the tools you need to succeed. We will create an environment in which your skillset is deployed and rewarded. Join us on this journey. You have earned the right to do so.
graduates, I will leave you with a few words of advice. Your journey as Kurdistanis starts here. Embrace, don’t fear the horizon, but never forget where you came from. Each and everyone of you has earned the right to make a difference. Go forth and prosper.
I am very proud of you all.