The Kurdistan Regional Government Representation to Poland began to work on the 25 of December 2004. The Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani signed the document to appoint Ziyad Raoof as the Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to Poland. The official opening of the office of the Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to Poland took place in March 2005 in Krakow. Many eminent guests such as Iraqi Ambassador in Poland, Dr. Walid Shiltag, general consuls of the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia. Honorary Consul of Brazil, representatives of the army and academical sphere as well as members of the Kurdish and Iraqi diasporas were presented at the opening ceremony.
The first Polish-Kurdish relations at the highest level, in which the Office of the KRG Representative took part, was in 2005, when the Polish delegation headed by Prime Minister Marek Belka together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Adam Rotfeld, Minister of National Defence Jerzy Szmajdziński, Minister of Culture Waldemar Dabrowski as well as Polish ambassador to Iraq Ryszard Krystosik visited Erbil and met with President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
The meeting of Ministers Marek Belka and Nechirvan Barzani, accompanied by the KRG Representative to Poland Ziyad Raoof and the Minister of Culture Waldemar Dabrowski
Over the years the KRG Representation to Poland put an undoubted merits for the development of mutual political, economic, cultural and educational relationships. The office organized numerous visits to Poland of the Kurdistan Regional Government ministers and their meetings with the representatives of the central and regional government, bilateral conferences and debates.
The most certain evidence of the development of the cooperation are the official documents. Malopolska Region during the political scientific and business mission to the Kurdistan Region in November 2011 signed a declaration on cooperation with the Kurdistan Region. Małopolska businesses then have signed cooperation agreements between the Jurassic Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Erbil. Mutual relations are developing very successfully. At least once a year there are mutual visits and revisits of the representatives of Kurdistan and Malopolska. The Wielkopolska Region and the Kurdistan Region relations have also been developed. The interest in cooperation was declared by other local governments and municipalities such as region Lower Silesia, Opole Voivodeship, Silesian Province, the city of Czestochowa.
In 2014 the office was officially moved to the capital of Poland- Warszawa.
Supported by the Office of the KRG Representative Kurdistan – Polish scientific cooperation is also extremely successful. In 2004, three universities of Iraqi Kurdistan: Salahaddin, Sulejmani and Dohuk have signed an agreement on cooperation and scientific exchange with the Jagiellonian University. Our institution has supported the creation of the Kurdish Studies Department at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Jagiellonian University. In 2007 the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań has signed an agreement with the University of Salahaddin and Sulejmani. In November 2012, during a visit of the Polish delegation to the Kurdistan Region, a cooperation agreement between Poznan University of Technology and the University of Duhok was signed. Thanks to this cooperation, many Kurdish students were able to get masters and PhD’s degrees in Polish Universities
Currently, 21 Polish universities are on the list of the Human Capacity Development Programme (HCDP) conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Kurdistan Regional Government. This means that the Kurdish authorities recommend their students studying in these universities and endow scholarship programs. Regular visits of scientists from both countries and student organizations take place. The Kurdish students’ interest in studying in Poland is growing from year to year..
The signing of a cooperation agreement between the Malopolska Voivodeship and the Kurdistan Region. From the left to the right: at that time the Polish Ambassador to Iraq Stanislaw Smolen, the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to Poland Ziyad Raoof, Marshal of Małopolska Marek Sowa and the Minister of of Industry and Trade in KRG Sinan Celebi.
The Office of the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to Poland also implements a number of initiatives to promote Polish-Kurdish cultural cooperation. The biggest events of recent months are:
The Kurdish month in Krakow. Through the whole march 2014 the KRG Representation was promoting Erbil as the capital tourism in 2014, Kurdish culture and history in a special Kurdish pavilion in Bronowice Gallery in Krakow through the phoyo exhibition and cultural initiatives. Every weekend special events were organized: concerts, Kurdish language courses, dance workshops, Kurdish cooking workshops, Kurdish lectures about literature, wedding traditions, Kurdish film screenings, an exhibition about Mustafa Barzani, a meeting commemorating the crime in Halabja. Kurdish Month was widely reported both in Polish and in the Kurdish media.
The exhibition about Citadel in Erbil – history and heritage. In May 2014 at the headquarters of the International Cultural Centre in Krakow, the lecture by the Director of High Authority in charge of the Revitalization of the Citadel in Erbil Dary and an exhibition of photographs of the citadel were held. The exhibition was a part of a Europe-wide tour to promote the candidacy of the monument to the entry on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These efforts were successful. On June the 21st the citadel was added to the list. The Krakow’s event can thus be considered as one of the elements that contributed to the success of the final bid.
Bahman Ghobadieg visit to Poland. In May 2014 the Office of the the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to Poland invited the most famous Kurdish film director Bahman Ghobadieg to Poland. The KRG Office in cooperation with the Jagiellonian University has organized an opened meeting with the director, and also helped Bahman Ghobadi to establish contacts with institutions and persons of Polish film industry. On the recommendation of our office Bahman Ghobadi also became a jury member at the International Festival of Independent Cinema Off Plus Camera in Krakow.