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Thank you very much. First of all I would like to thank the State of Kuwait and you personally, all your citizens, not only for the warm hospitality but also for the unique convening power that you exercise among us and in the region.
We meet at a crucial juncture in the liberation of Iraq from Da'esh. The European Union remains fully committed to support Iraq through further stabilisation, reform, reconciliation and reconstruction work. We see all these components as crucial and needed to consolidate the achievements we had and all those elements are reflected in the European Union strategy for Iraq that we just adopted with all our Member States in January, and that also comes with a financial package about which, for sure, we will talk more tomorrow when I will have the honour to co–chair the Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq here.
The focus we have on Iraq is mainly on inclusive governance and social cohesion, because we share the views of our friends in Iraq that we need to put the citizens of Iraq - all of the citizens of Iraq - at the center of this consolidation work. And as stabilisation efforts peak, I am pleased to announce that the European Union continues to support financially the UNDP's [United Nations Development Programme] Funding Facility for Stabilisation.
We share the concerns about the little, but still crucial effort that is needed to mobilise funding, in particular for demining. As chairs of the Global Coalition’s subgroup on Explosive Hazard Mitigation, we want to appeal to all partners for further contributions in demining work that is essential for having safe returns of individuals to their communities and the functioning of critical services, such as water, health, education and electricity infrastructures.
We are also contributing to counter-terrorism work and civilian security reform in Iraq, in particular through the deployment of an Assistance Mission [European Union Assistance Mission to Iraq] that for the first time ever on the European Union side includes also experts on the protection of cultural heritage. And we know how important this is for the relaunch of the Iraqi social and economic life as well.
The coalition has been successful also in Syria - and the map was really impressive - even if Da'esh is not totally defeated there and we understood well that it is adapting to battlefield dynamics.
So as our colleagues continue to focus on the military dimension of this fight, within stabilisation – which remains a priority for us - demining is and stays a priority for the European Union to allow, in particular, assistance to enter Raqqa safely. We are increasing our contributions in this field for Syria and we are also engaging with Raqqa Syrian civil society for recovery and humanitarian efforts, while advocating also for increased local authorities representativeness.
Let me share the point just mentioned: we need, in order to consolidate these results, a UN-led political process in Geneva that moves further, that is credible and that is supported by all international players. This is needed to ensure sustainability to liberation, to avoid future generations turning towards radicalism or choosing the exile and we need to bring the parties to the negotiating table now.
We will dedicate the second Brussels Conference for supporting the future of Syria and the region exactly to this, at the end of April of this year. We will work to support the UN efforts in Geneva, and to support the future of the Syrian people inside Syria and in the host countries. We will take stock of last year's commitments and we will look for further pledges to support the humanitarian, but also the political work that we still need to complete in Syria. Thank you.
Link to the audio file: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/audio/audioDetails.cfm?ref=I151003&sitelang=en