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Debate on EU's Role in Iraq – Statement by State Secretary Janez Lenarčič on behalf of the EU Council

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

First of all, allow me to congratulate the Rapporteur, Member of the Parliament Ana Maria Gomes, for her report on EU's role in Iraq. We look forward to hearing the recommendations of the Rapporteur and of the whole assembly and will study them in detail.

On this occasion, I would like to welcome the decision of the European Parliament to establish an ad hoc delegation for Iraq. This will undoubtedly be helpful in our efforts to strengthen relations between the EU and Iraq on all fronts.

The EU continues to enhance its relations with Iraq in close cooperation with the Iraqi Government and other actors, particularly the United Nations. The Union has always supported a central role for the UN in Iraq and will continue to work closely with the UN/UNAMI mission and deliver support to it to fulfil its role as set out in Resolution of the UN Security Council No 1770. The European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) is helping alleviate the humanitarian situation in the region, not only in Iraq, but also in its neighbourhood. We intend to identify opportunities to provide further human rights support and assist the Iraqi authorities in meeting their responsibilities in accordance with the International Compact with Iraq.

The negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with Iraq are another important element in strengthening the relations between the Union and this country. I am happy to say that the negotiations are progressing very well. 

The EU is a strong supporter of the Neighbouring Countries Process. We will continue to underline the importance of dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and its neighbours. 

The EU continues to underline that the territorial integrity of Iraq should be preserved. The Presidency expressed great concern at the operations of the Turkish Army on Iraqi territory which began on 21 February and ended on 29 February. At this point, I would like to stress the importance of continued dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey. We would strongly encourage the Governments of Turkey and Iraq, including the Kurdistan Regional Government, to find peaceful solutions to the situation and avoid hostilities.

Progress on national reconciliation is essential if the developments in the security situation are to be sustainable in the longer run. The EU is ready to support Iraq in implementing its commitments to further this process.

Allow me to conclude by stating that in 2008 the European Union allocated over 800 million euro to assist Iraq. The EU continues to contribute to the reconstruction of the Iraqi security sector. The Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq (EUJUST LEX) has been extended until summer 2009. As we know, the Mission is highly valued by the Iraqi authorities.


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Date: 12.03.2008