By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, VC Cho Kyung-hee, Reporter Son Da-som
Ambassador Hayder Shiya Albarrak of the Republic of Iraq in Seoul said, “We have excellent collaboration between Iraq and Korea in the bilateral field and multilateral fields, and now we are focusing on economic area because we need to rebuild our country which was destroyed by terrorism.”
Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean news publications for the past 34 years, Ambassador Albarrak stated, “We are looking for long strategic partnership. We are not seeking only strategic partnership which may end in 4 or 5 years but we are looking for 50 or maybe even 100 years of strategic partnership.”
Then he added: “This is what I conveyed to the Korean side and this is what I have been instructed from the Iraqi Government that we have to work on this track, the long strategic partnership.
“We can be considered that from 2010 it was the real start of this long strategic partnership and the Korean companies came in the 3rd place in the amount of investment in Iraq with the amount of US$30 billion with the investment being widely diverse from oil and gas to electricity, housing, health and educational sector.”
Iraq is a very special country to Korea.
Offhand, speaking from my personal experience as the publisher-chairman of The Korea Post media, all the ambassadors of Iraq in Seoul, including the such ‘pro-Korean’ ambassadors, have done a great deal of good things for the promotion of relations and friendship between the their country and Korea. Among them are Ambassadors Khalil Al-Mosawi, Wadee Al-Batti and Khalil Al-Mosawi, all of whom The Korea Post media have already covered as it is now doing to the incumbent ambassador.
According to a recent report of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iraq already had brilliant culture and history way back in B.C. 4,500 when it was the Kingdom of Sumer. Iraq was the heart of the Islam World for 500 years and especially the home of such famous story of Cheonil Yahwa (Story of The Thousand and One Nights or The Fable of the Arabian Night)
Iraq won his independence and became an independent sovereign country in the world in 1932. Of course, like Korea, Iraq has had happy times and also sad memories but happily the ISIS War ended in December 2017 and the country has stared his reconstruction in real earnest.
Particularly in 2018 with the inauguration of the new government under the leadership of President Barham Salih, the reconstruction and rehabilitation work has been making a remarkable progress in real earnest.
Korea established a consular relationship with Iraq in 1981 and the two countries upgraded it to ambassadorial level in 1989, which means that Korea and Iraq celebrate the 30th anniversary of formal establishment of diplomatic relations.
According to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iraq is the second largest oil exporting country among the OPEC member countries, and has the fifth largest oil reserves in the world with 143.1 billion barrels in deposit reserves, which accounts for 11% of the total amount of world’s oil reserves.
Ambassador Albarrak discussed a wide range of topics at the exclusive interview with The Korea Post media which included the view of the Head of Government concerning President Moon Jae-in. Excerpts from the Questions and answers at the interview with
Ambassador Albarrak follow:
Question: What is the view of Your Head of Government concerning President Moon Jae-in? Does your President have any plan to meet with President Moon Mae-in in the near future?
Answer: The Government of the Republic of Iraq has a very positive perception of President Moon Jae-in who is considered to be the first President who wants to end the situation of a ‘state of no war and no peace’ on the Korean peninsula.
Q: What is the nature of the political system in Iraq?
A: Since the establishment of the modern Iraqi state there have been 3 different political systems
1921 – 1958 The monarchy
1958 – 2003 presidential System
2003 – Until now (Mixed political system between presidential system and parliamentary system which is giving the prime minister a wide extensive executive powers.
Q: What are your competitive products and/or services attractive to Korea and what are Korean products and services that your country might wish to import from us?
A: Mainly we export oil to Korea we are the 3rd oil provider country to Korea and we import from Korea a lot of things like cars electronic devices home appliances , So we have mutual benefits that we can built on it.
Q: Who are the Korean companies actively contributing to the economic development and growth of your country, especially the small-medium Korean companies? Please elaborate, introducing several exemplary ones--other than the ubiquitously known Jaebeol conglomerates who are already widely known
A: The total number of Korean companies actively engaged in the economic cooperation between the two countries are around 40 companies but the main ones are Hanwa, Hyundai, LG, Samsung, STX and KAI. Hanwa’s investments amount to US$10 billion.
Q: What are the attractive tourist destinations of your country? Korean business leaders seek rest and recuperation and tourist destinations?
A: Korea and Iraq sharing that they have Ancient civilizations and we can say it proudly that we have the most Ancient civilizations which goes back to 7000 year, so the ancient sites distributed to the hole country and they are around 20,000 ancient sites, some of them for religions temples, and also we have the diversity climate across the state from the mountains in the north to the desert in the west and the marshes in the south.
Q: Who is your Korean honorary consul or consul general? How is he contributing to furthering the bilateral cooperation?
A: Unfortunately, we don’t have a Korean honorary consul or consul general.
Q: Who are the Korean figures in your country and/or in Korea, who are representatively friendly with your country? Please introduce such Koreans adequately as other Korean leaders might wish to follow their suit?
A: I have many Korean friends, and I share with them some the Korean social traditional activities .
Q: Please add whatever other details that we might have left out from the questionnaire?
A: I would like to mention that this year marks the 30th anniversary to establishment of diplomatic relations between Iraq and Korea and we start to prepare for this event through a different activities such as viewing of Iraqi movies and presentation of traditional Iraqi music and other activities.
Q: We have not had an honor of introducing Your Excellency. Please introduce yourself to our readers, Koreans and international readership, whom we cover with the afore-mentioned five media outlets, 3 in English and 2 in Korean.
A: (Please see the CV of the ambassador attached.)
Curriculum vitae of Ambassador Hayder Shiya Albarrak:
Name: Hayder Shiya ALBARRAK
Marital Status: Married with 3 children
Date and place of Birth: 07/06/1967- Babylon, Iraq
Arabic: Mother Language
Bachelor degree in English Literature – College of Arts – University of Baghdad in 1990
Bachelor degree in Law – College of Law – University of Babylon in 2005
Master degree in International Relations –College of Political Sciences – Khazar University in 2014
01/04/2018 ~, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq to the Republic of Korea.
13/11/2016 – 05/02/2018, Ambassador – Head of Policy Planning Department, Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
15/11/2015 – 10/11/2016, Ambassador – Head of Africa Department, Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
28/10/2015 – 14/11/2015, Ambassador - Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
10/06/2010 – 27/10/2015, Accredited Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
02/01/2008 – 10/06/2010, Ambassador – Head of Press Department, Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
03/10/2007 – 31/12/2007, Ambassador – Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
11/10/2004 – 30/09/2007, Accredited Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria.
20/07/2004 – 07/10/2004, Ambassador – Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
13/07/2003 - 30/06/2004, First Deputy Member – Former Iraqi Governing Council.
03/12/1990 – 21/09/1996, English Teacher