Bulgaria to open consulate-general in Erbil, Iraq
Bulgaria is to open a consulate-general in the Iraqi city of Erbil, which is also capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan autonomous region.
This was decided by the Cabinet in Sofia on January 29 2014, just a few days more than a year since then-foreign minister Nikolai Mladenov attended the re-opening of the Bulgarian embassy in Baghdad and also visited Erbil.
Bulgaria and Iraq have had diplomatic relations since 1958, but from 2003 to early 2013 Bulgaria had no diplomatic missions operating in Iraq.
On January 29, Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said that the opening of the consulate-general in Erbil was an appropriate way to support and further intensify bilateral economic relations and improve the ability to protect the interests of Bulgarian individuals and companies in the region.
The ministry said that promising areas for development co-operation included energy, the food industry, agricultural, pharmaceuticals and tourism, and there was interest among leading Bulgarian companies in taking part in infrastructure projects, construction and hydro-electric energy generation.
At a meeting in Erbil on January 24 2013, Mladenov (who now is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq) and the prime minister of the Kurdish regional government, Nechervan Idris Barzani, agreed that a Bulgarian consulate would be opened in the region as soon as possible. At the same meeting, it was also said that an office of the Kurdish regional government would be opened in Sofia, similar to those in other European capitals, to further cultural and business contacts.
Erbil has a population of about 1.3 million and is the fourth-largest city in Iraq.
(Photo: Jim Gordon)