Consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan should be for ordinary citizens, not just business interests

15 October 2009

Consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan should be for ordinary citizens, not just business interests

Harry van Bommel is calling on Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to ensure that the consulate in the town of Erbil, capital of the Kurdish region in Iraq, is able to offer a full range of services. The consulate was established some time ago, but its activities are restricted to the promotion of business interests. "In the interests of the many Dutch citizens involved there, we need a proper consulate," says Van Bommel.

Harry van BommelThis is not the first time this year that Van Bommel has asked the minister to ensure the provision of a fully functioning consulate, issuing passports and visas, an idea also embraced by Kurdish Foreign Minister Falah Bakir Mustafa. In addition, there are many Dutch citizens of Kurdish origin who are directly dependent on the existence of such a consulate. In reply to Van Bommel's request, Verhagen simply pointed to answers to earlier parliamentary questions which showed that he was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

The Netherlands has installed an energy specialist from the Foreign Ministry as the country's ambassador in Baghdad, while in Erbil the representative is a businessman named as honorary consul, whose task is to promote Dutch business interests. "The interests of Dutch firms can be promoted just as easily from Baghdad as they can from Erbil," argues Van Bommel. "That's all right and proper. But there are many Dutch people of Kurdish descent and so it's more than necessary to have a fully equipped consulate in the capital of the region, one which isn't just there to serve the interests of businesses looking to make money in Kurdistan. Government ministers must meet the demands of ordinary citizens.”

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