Erbilia Interviews Ambassador of Iraq to Belarus
His Excellency Mr. Haidar HadiDecember 21, 2014 — Updated 16:00 GMT+2
Q. Ambassador, please give us a brief background about your personal life:
A. I was born in Baghdad in 1970 but was forced to leave Iraq for the UK at the age of 21 years because of the brutality of Saddam Hussain’s Regime.
Graduated with a BA (Hons) in Business Administration from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. Married in London in 2000 and now have two children, a son and a daughter, both born in London and raised in three different countries: the UK, Jordan and Belarus.
My hobbies are traveling, collecting stamps and in my spare time I will to browse the internet mainly news websites both in English and Arabic.
In September 2003, six months after the fall of Saddam’s Regime, I decided to return to Iraq to be part of the rebuilding process. In 2006 I was nominated by Iraqiah Bloc led by current Vice-President Dr. Ayad Allawi to be the Bloc’s Representative in Amman, Jordan, during the General Elections in 2006. In 2007 I was nominated for an Ambassadorial Position by the same political party to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In November 2009, I took the Oath as one of Iraq’s new Ambassadors. In 2010 I was posted to Belarus to be the first Iraqi Ambassador after 2003.
Q. Ambassador, how long have you been here in Belarus and how do you summarize your experience as an Ambassador here, and in few words, how do you describe this country (Belarus) and its capital, Minsk:
A. I arrived in Belarus on June, 10, 2010 to start my post as first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq to the Republic of Belarus after 2003. It has been a very interesting and rewarding experience for me to serve my country in Belarus. Bilateral Relations have developed positively since I started my post.
Belarus is known for its beauty as a country located in the heart of Europe. Belarusian people are known for their hospitality, tolerance and generosity. They welcomed me and my family with an open arm.
The friendship I have managed to develop on both personal and professional levels helps me a great deal to serve my country by developing the bilateral relations between Iraq and Belarus.
Q. Please share 5 of your top achievements during your ongoing assignment as Ambassador of Iraq to Belarus:
A. I would say the 5 top achievements during my ongoing assignment as Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to the Republic of Belarus are as follows:
Firstly, the appointment of HE Ambassador Andrei Savinykh as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Turkey, with Concurrent Accreditation to Iraq. He submitted his credentials to Iraq’s top officials in April 2014. Also the appointment of Mr. Fouad Mamand Hamad as Honorary Consul of Belarus in Erbil.
Secondly, holding the 6th Round of the Iraq-Belarus Joint Economic Committee in Minsk in June 2012, after 10 years of the last round.
Thirdly, the visit of HE Mr.Vladimir Makei – Belarus Minister of Foreign Affairs – to Baghdad and Erbil. After 2003 it is the first visit of a top Belarusian official to Iraq.
Fourthly, holding the 1st Round of meetings in Minsk between the private sectors of Iraq and Belarus with a view to strengthening economic and trade ties between the two countries.
Finally, I more than doubled the number of Iraqi students in Belarus, from 150 Iraqi students in 2010 to more than 380 Iraqi students in 2014.
Q. Please share 5 of your top priorities or future plans/projects that you will be working on:
A. My top 5 priorities for the future are :
Firstly, holding the 7th Round of Iraq-Belarus Joint Economic Committee in Baghdad to further strengthen mutual cooperation between Iraq and Belarus.
Secondly, executing the visit of the Head of Iraqi Parliament Dr. Saleem Aljibouri after accepting the invitation to visit Minsk from his Belarusian counterpart. This will be the highest visit of a top Iraqi official to Belarus since 2003.
Thirdly, opening Minsk-Baghdad-Minsk and Minsk-Erbil-Minsk flights for the first time between the two countries since 2003.
Fourthly, working on finalizing draft Agreements in the Spheres of Education, Sports, Housing and Construction, as well as Health, by coordinating between Iraqi and Belarusian ministries, in order to be signed by the top officials of the two countries.
Finally, encouraging Belarusian businesses and investors to visit Iraq in order to explore business opportunities by meeting with them to answer all their questions and concerns, as well as facilitating the visa process for them by granting visas in no more than 2 days.
Q. Taking into consideration the challenges Iraq is facing on many levels, do you have plans to encourage the tourism of Belarusians in Iraq, or special programs you are working on?
A. Despite all the challenges my country is currently facing, I take every single opportunity to talk about what is really happening in Iraq in order to educate the Belarusian public how brutal and dangerous ISIS is, stressing that this evil must be fought against, must be pushed aside to save the world peace likewise social coherence in Iraq, the Region and the world. With the support the Government is getting eternally and externally and with the victories Iraqi Military Forces and the Popular Crowd are making, it will be possible to win this war and concentrate on the rebuilding process we started years ago. Going back to promoting tourism, yes I do encourage tourism of Belarusians to Iraq as we have different types of tourism: national tourism, historical tourism as well as religious tourism. If tourism in Iraq is promoted appropriately, we would have really good business, which in its turn can generate good income to the country.
Q. In regards to Kurdistan, does the Embassy promote or work on including Erbil in specific on its calendar of efforts when it comes to diplomatic, cultural, business or any type of effort?
A. Certainly the Embassy includes Kurdistan on its calendar. To me Kurdistan is a very important part of Iraq so it must be included in the Embassy’s plan when it comes to diplomatic, cultural, business or any other type of activities in order to develop the bilateral relations between Iraq and Belarus. I work very closely with Mr. Fouad Mamand Hamad, the Honorary Consul of Belarus in Erbil in order to provide him with the Embassy’s full support and assistance to make sure he is doing his job with success. Recently the Embassy has supported the successful visit of Kurdistan’s Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources Mr. Abdulsatar Majeed and the accompanying delegation.
Q. How can Iraq–Belarus business and cultural ties be strengthened, and what has been done or will be done in that direction?
A. There is so much strategic potential between Iraq and Belarus! Certainly, business is one of them. In June 2014 the Embassy supported the visit of a large delegation from the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce representing the Private Sector in Iraq. The delegation was headed by Mr. Jaffar Alhamdani and included members representing the private sector from all over Iraq including Kurdistan. During the visit a memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce and Belarus Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Currently the Embassy is working on holding the first Business Forum between the Iraqi and Belarusian Private Sectors to create a platform and an environment for both Iraqi and Belarusian businessmen and women to meet in order to explore business opportunities in both countries. The Embassy also works hard to strengthen bilateral cultural ties by participating in various cultural events to give a chance to the Belarusian people to know more about Iraq’s history and culture.
Q. Which industries in Iraq have the most potential for increasing their business with Belarus, now or in the future?
A. Belarus Tractors Works is very much interested in establishing business ties with Iraq. In July 2011 Former Industry and Minerals Minister Mr. Ahmed Alkarboli paid an official visit to Minsk during which a MOU was signed by the two Ministries in order to start corporation in the Industry field. Also in September 2012 another follow up visit to Minsk by six Directors Generals from Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals who met with their Belarusian counterparts to discuss corporation in the sphere of Industry.
Q. What do you like most about Minsk, any special places, cities, restaurants, natural sites… you like to visit in your free time?
A. What I like most about Minsk is its beauty, cleanliness and safety. Special places for me to see or would like to take my official and non-official visitors are the National Library, Victory Square and the Palace of the Republic. As for the restaurants, I like to take my family and friends to “Dolce Vita” and “Falcone” for Italian Cuisine, “Café de Paris” for French Cuisine, “Tajraj” Restaurant for Indian Cuisine and “Mazaj” for Arabic Cuisine.
Apart from Minsk, I have been to Grodno, Brest, Vitebsk and Gomel Regions and have enjoyed the beautiful scenery there and witnessed the hospitality of the Belarusians living in these regions.
Q. Any advice for Iraqis in general or people from Kurdistan who wish to visit Belarus and still haven’t, any message?
A. I highly recommend Iraqis to visit Belarus for tourism purposes. I think, financially it is very much affordable comparing to any holiday destinations. Also, people will fall in love with Belarus from first visit. My advice to Iraqis who wish to visit Belarus for tourism or study purposes is to do this through the appropriate channels but not through middlemen or bogus companies organizing trips to Belarus for Iraqis to study or for tourism purposes. The Iraqi Embassy in Minsk is always ready to provide any essential assistance or supportive advice for Iraqis wishing to visit Belarus.
Q. Which well-known people do you most admire in general?
A. I’ve always admired Mahatma Ghandi as during his lifetime he refused violence and always promoted peace. One of his well-known quotes I admire is “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.“
Your final word or message:
Finally, I would to thank Erbilia Online for granting me such a great opportunity to share my experience with its readers. To know more about my life and work as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq to the Republic of Belarus, I invite your readers to follow my social media accounts by visiting my official website: www.haidarhadi.com