Check against delivery!
Thank you Minister.
I would like to thank Foreign Minister [of Iraq], Fuad Hussein, for inviting me to Baghdad. We met in June, when I had the pleasure to welcome you and your Prime Minister [Mustafa Al-Kadhimi] at the European Union Foreign [Affairs] Council in Luxembourg.
I am here today, in Baghdad -and it is my great pleasure to do so- on behalf of the European Union to express our solidarity and support to the Iraqi people, and our solid partnership with Iraq. We strongly believe that a stable and prosperous Iraq will benefit not only its people, but the wider region and also the European Union.
I want to recognise the important role that Iraq plays as a constructive bridge-builder in the region. The Iraqi government has just demonstrated this by bringing together regional leaders at the Baghdad conference on the past 28 August. I want to commend this important effort to promote de-escalation, dialogue and regional solutions.
The European Union is determined to support these regional efforts with all the instruments and I am personally committed to work on the follow-up of this important conference.
Our bilateral relations are on a very positive trajectory. Our partnership and cooperation agreement provides us with a solid basis for strengthening our partnership. We agreed today to hold our next Joint Cooperation Council at Ministerial level soon. We are going to work for the precise date, but this will happen very soon.
We are also keen to support the ambitious socioeconomic and governance reform agenda demanded by Iraqi people. Since 2014 -on the last 7 years- we have provided more than €1.3 billion in financial cooperation, in many fields: socio-economic, security and humanitarian.
We also remain committed to continue offering strategic advice on civilian security sector reform through our advisory mission here in Iraq, and accompanying via diplomatic mechanisms, [such as] the Iraq Economic Contact Group.
We also want to continue building on the very good cooperation on migration that [Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations Affairs and Minister for Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein] has been mentioning. We have had a good cooperation in recent months, reinforcing migration governance.
The security situation in the country unfortunately I know it is a difficult situation. Just last week we have had to regret another deadly attack in Kirkuk. The European Union remains strongly committed to the Global Coalition [against Da’esh]. There is no place for terrorism or rogue elements, including Da’esh, in a sovereign country. There are also acts of violence and harassment against political activists, journalists and human rights defenders. All these critical aspects of the security situation have to be addressed, especially as early parliamentarian elections are approaching in October.
Let me commend Minister the very important efforts to plan and execute genuinely free and fair, Iraqi-led and Iraqi-owned elections. These polls should be an important milestone in Iraq’s democratic consolidation.
And I am also glad to say that, at your request, and for the first time, the European Union will deploy an European Union Election Observation Mission based on an objective assessment of the polls. This mission will produce a public report with recommendations, trying to help to further improve the electoral framework in Iraq.
I am also looking forward to fruitful meetings with Prime Minister [Mustafa] al-Kadhimi, with President [Barham] Salih and with the Speaker [of Parliament Mohammed] Al Halbousi here in Baghdad, and with my interlocutors in Erbil tomorrow.
It is a great pleasure for me, and a great honour to be received by the highest authorities of the Iraqi Republic, here in Baghdad and in Erbil. Thank you for that.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-210265