to the first joint international Forum organized by the University of Sulaimani and the Polytechnic University Sulaimani on the 9 th and 10 th of October 2018 in the Esma’il Beshkchi Hall on the new UoS Campus. This Forum has an international agenda. It aims both at further opening up the thriving academic life and research in Iraqi Kurdistan to the outside world, in particular to the neighboring countries in the Middle East, Eurasia and Europe, and enhance simultaneously opportunities for international scientists to intensify research into Kurdish culture, language, society, civilization and humanitarian values. We intentionally combine forces between the UoS, established 1968 by the later first Kurdish Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (1933-2017), on the new Campus with some 25,000 students, 8 faculties and two colleges one of the biggest universities in the cultural Kurdistan capital Sulaimani, and the SPU, the younger Sulaimani Polytechnic, constituted in 1996, with roughly 14,000 students focusing on modern technology and engineering.
The topics of our joint international Forum are insofar unique as our agenda touches upon on a variety of issues who had not been elaborated on before in a similar comprehensive and advanced way. To mention but a few highlights: The future of Kirkuk and the other "disputed territories", which seems only feasibly through direct negotiations between legitimate representatives of the Kurdistan Region and the federal central government in Baghdad. The big challenge remains to achieve a fair and sustainable compromise for all sides involved. Then: vital security issues and the fight against IS terror groups, where Kurdish "Peshmergas" gained international recognition in the recent past as able and effective fighters and also as reliable partners of alliances enforcing humanitarian values. Moreover, the escalating international refugee crisis which brought the European Union to the brink of collapse and new misery for refugees, inhuman treatment and an increasing deterioration of global humanitarian values. Further: key word genocide: the Kurds are the only one in contemporary history who suffered within a few decades twice a genocide: in the 1980s in Halabja and during the Anfal extermination campaign, and in 2014 in the Sinjar (Shingal) where a new genocide still threatens the very existence and survival of the Yezidi. We urge in this regard a new form of questioning and scientific research aiming at convincing answers both why all that barbarism happened to the Kurds piled up in a few decades and how it could be prevented happening ever again in the future. A final thought: we also initiate for the first time in recent history a dialogue of intellectuals and elites of both Kurds and Arabs and indeed all the other peoples of Iraq boosting a process of a sustainable national reconciliation in the future. Kurdish scholars will determine minimum requirements for such an intended multi-ethno-cultural compromise, and Arab scientists will outline their roadmap for the rethinking of a common framework Iraq. And then we will see where our initiated dialogue could lead us all from here to the better.
Last but not least, we want to emphasize the role of intellectuals, scholars and scientists in these processes of transformation of our societies to the better. In this respect we see this first Sulaimani joint conference Forum UoS-SPU as significant. We also see both of our universities in the forefront of these efforts. We want to create qualification and not merely hand out certificates and diplomas only. The results are progressively positive. Research in the Kurdistan Region could be enhanced recently by 300% compared to previous years, and publications in international academic journals have been increased by 200%, as Dr. Yousif Goran, the KRG Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, announced. And all this could be achieved despite the fact that our universities and their employees are still faced with severe financial problems and payment cuts. Yet, it confirms that even in difficult times the decisive propellant for advancing our societies is education. And the driving force and great hope for educated societies is their youth, above all the academically trained one. The Kurdistan Region has currently a population of some 5,2 million. It has a young and growing population, with 36% aged 0-14 years, and only 4% aged over 63. The median age in Kurdistan is just over 20, more than 50% are less than 20 (UNDP Survey 2004). That is why we are staunchly dedicated to provide education as key for a better future. For all of us.
I wish the first joint conference Forum between the University of Sulaimani and the Sulaimani Polytechnic the best success.
Dr. Ridha Hassan Hussein