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President Nechirvan Barzani emphasizes the necessity of greater focus on arts and culture

President Nechirvan Barzani emphasizes the necessity of greater focus on arts and culture

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, May 27, 2024

President Nechirvan Barzani attended the inauguration ceremony of the Kurdistan Center for Arts and Culture in Erbil this evening. During the ceremony, he delivered the following speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening,

I am delighted that we have gathered here tonight for a distinct event, steering clear of political discussions. Instead, we shall delve into the realms of art, culture, and the intricate world of language. I extend my gratitude to the youth who graciously invited me to partake in the inauguration ceremony of the Kurdistan Center for Arts and Culture.

In the midst of ongoing political turmoil and various events that envelop us, each instance serves as a reminder that life extends beyond the realm of politics. Art and culture hold significant value as they contribute beauty and meaning to our existence. They are akin to the tree of life. It is crucial, particularly for the people of the Kurdistan Region, to safeguard their cultural heritage, art, language, literature, customs, and history, as these elements form the foundation of our national identity.

I extend my congratulations to the individuals responsible for the creation of this center. I hold their efforts and responsibilities in high regard and express my continued cooperation and support towards the achievement of their mission, objectives, and initiatives.

Dear friends,

Kurds and Kurdistanis possess a profoundly intricate and varied history and culture. Despite the systematic repression, oppression, prohibition, denial, and violence aimed at erasing the Kurds, Kurdistan, and their cultural heritage throughout history, these efforts have not succeeded in obliterating their vibrant and diverse culture.

Kurds and Kurdistanis have shown exceptional resilience throughout history, overcoming numerous tragedies and hardships with an unwavering desire, will, love, and determination to safeguard their language, culture, art, and literature. In doing so, they have set a remarkable precedent for cultural preservation.

One can recall the wise words of the renowned poet Haji Qadir Koyi, who succinctly captured the essence of this significant matter. Haji Qadir wrote:

“Books, notebooks, dates, and papers,
If they were written in Kurdish,
Our mullahs, elders, sheikhs, and kings,
Their names would have been immortalized for eternity.”

Throughout history, it becomes evident that the people of Kurdistan have only been able to develop a written language when provided with opportunities for freedom. The existence of prominent figures such as Melayê Cizîrî and Ehmedê Xanî can be attributed to the presence of the Botan Emirate. Similarly, the Baban Emirate played a crucial role in the creation of Nali and Salem. Without the support and patronage of these emirates, the development of a written language in Kurdistan would not have been possible.

Under the leadership of the late Sheikh Mahmud, Kurdish journalism and writing experienced a period of significant growth and development. During the reign of the Kurdistan Republic, there was a notable surge in support for the preservation and promotion of Kurdish language and culture, albeit for a limited duration of one year. However, following the signing of the March 1970 Autonomy Agreement and the subsequent establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 1992, a new era dawned for the Kurdish people, as all barriers restricting the flourishing of Kurdish language, art, and culture were removed.

It should be noted that Sheikh Abdulsalam Barzani, in a memorandum submitted to the Ottoman authorities during the early 1900s, advocated for the utilization of the Kurdish language. These examples highlight that language, literature, culture, art, books, films, and theater have served as the foundation for our rights, aspirations, demands, strategies, and objectives. Rest assured, we are committed to fulfilling our responsibilities in these domains and actively pursuing them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Throughout history, challenging circumstances and limited resources for recording and archiving have resulted in the loss of numerous artistic and cultural treasures, ranging from musical compositions to literary works and valuable manuscripts. Despite these losses, humanity still possesses one of the most diverse and abundant collections of art and culture in the world.

Indeed, the political landscape has consistently given rise to alternative focal points. Nevertheless, for over three decades following the revolution in the Kurdistan Region, the realm of culture has been diligently attended to. Nonetheless, there remains a considerable distance to traverse, necessitating heightened consideration for all facets within this domain and its advancement across all strata.

To achieve this objective, it is imperative to conduct a thorough evaluation of the cultural policy in the Kurdistan Region. Additionally, both official entities and all individuals and institutions involved in the cultural domain must maintain continuous collaborative efforts. By doing so, the rich art and culture of Kurdistan can project a more captivating and appealing image.

The establishment and operation of institutions such as this center, dedicated to the promotion of art and culture, play a crucial role in safeguarding the rich cultural heritage of Kurdistan. The preservation of rare and ancient manuscripts, documents, and books found in private collections and homes through archiving and digitization is imperative to ensure their survival for future generations.

The advent of technology and artificial intelligence has opened up numerous possibilities and capabilities, greatly aiding in the efficient recording, storage, and preservation of our cultural heritage. The commendable efforts undertaken by this center across various regions of Kurdistan serve as a commendable initiative, deserving of recognition and support.

Mr. Mazhar Khaleqi and his team at the Kurdish Culture Institute have made significant and commendable contributions in the past. Their dedication and perseverance over the years have resulted in the preservation of a vast collection of Kurdish music and artistic works, which are of exceptional quality and well-organized. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to them and express my sincere wishes for their continued success and prosperity.

Translating Kurdish literature into various languages is a crucial undertaking that holds significant importance. The utilization of technology greatly facilitates the dissemination of these works to a wider audience. As I heard, they started with Hazhari Mukriani’s masterpiece (Cheshti Majeur) and translated it into English here at this centre. This initiative is commendable, and those involved deserve recognition for their efforts.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all individuals involved in the establishment of this center. It is my sincere hope that in collaboration with other arts and culture institutions in Kurdistan and beyond, this center will enhance its contributions to the field and foster connections with its counterparts worldwide. Rest assured, we are committed to providing assistance and support to ensure their success.

Thank you, and I wish everyone a pleasant evening.

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