International Community Expresses Condolences over Death of Jalal Talabani

International Community Expresses Condolences over Death of Jalal Talabani

The international community has expressed condolences on the passing of Kurdish leader and former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Talabani, the founder and Secretary-General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), passed away in Berlin on Tuesday (October 3).

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, expressed his condolences over the death of Talabani, describing him as a “historic symbol of Kurdish struggle for their rights, against dictatorship and for democracy, and a leading voice of moderation, dialogue, mutual understanding and respect in Iraq’s contemporary politics.”

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Talabani, a historic national leader, statesman and patriot of unique wisdom and foresight … We wish to express our deepest condolences to his family, the people of Iraq and the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as well as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party he founded and led.”

U.S. State Department’s Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a press conference on Tuesday that the U.S. was “deeply” saddened to learn of the death of Talabani, who was a true statesman and a leader for all of Iraqis.

“We want to send our sincerest condolences to the family of Mr. Talabani and the people of the Republic of Iraq as they mourn during this time,” Nauert added.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also expressed condolences in a tweet to the family of Talabani, calling him a “great leader of his people and all of Iraq.”

The UK's Minister of State for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said he was saddened to hear of the former Iraqi President’s death. “He was a respected statesman who served Iraq with distinction,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

The British Ambassador of Iraq, Frank Baker, also said on Twitter he was saddened to learn of the death of Talabani, who was a huge political leader in Iraq’s history. “Jalal #Talabani showed wisdom and compassion throughout his life. He will be greatly missed.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences in a phone call to Talabani’s wife, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, and his son Qubad Talabani, according to Turkish presidential sources.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also sent a message to Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, lauding Talabani as “an eminent politician and statesman” who had done great service to both Iraqi Kurds and all of Iraq, sources in his office said.

“I would like to express our condolences to you, your family, all of your relatives, and to our Iraqi brothers,” Yildirim said in the message.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif also offered his condolences in a message on the death of Talabani.

Zarif said news concerning the “demise of former president of Iraq caused deep sorrow and regret for me.”

Italy has also issued a statement on Talabani’s death. “Sincere condolences to Iraqi & Kurdish people & to his family for the passing away of Former President of the Republic Jalal Talabani,” the Italian Embassy in Iraq tweeted on Tuesday.

The European Union Delegation in Iraq said in a statement on Wednesday (October 4) that Talabani’s death was a “great loss” for the Kurds and the whole Iraq at these critical times.

“He was a national leader who fought his whole life for the rights of the Kurds in a united, free and democratic Iraq,” the EU Ambassador to Iraq, Ramon Blecua, said.  “The European Union Delegation to Iraq would like to convey to his family, the PUK leaders and members, the people of Kurdistan and Iraq the deepest condolences for this loss."

Talabani, a veteran leader of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination, stepped down as president in 2014, after a long period of treatment following a stroke in 2012.

Talabani was born near Erbil, now the seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, in 1933.

He was the first non-Arab president of Iraq, elected in 2005, two years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Following Talabani’s death, Masoud Barzani released a video message declaring seven days of national mourning in the Kurdistan Region for the loss of Talabani.

“I lost my friend, brother and supporter. Along with each other we could overcome numerous obstacles during our struggle and endeavor,” said Barzani.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also offered condolences on the death of Kurdish leader and former Iraqi president.

"We received the news of the of the brother ex-Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, may God have mercy on him. My condolences to his family, the Iraqi people in general and the Kurdish people in particular and also our colleagues and brothers in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan on the death of this hard fighter who has a long history in fighting dictatorship and our sincere partner in building the democratic, united and federal Iraq. We are in a bad need under current sensitive circumstances of his rationalism, moderation and wisdom and his keenness on Iraq's unity and enhancement of Arab-Kurdish brotherhood,” Abadi said.