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It is my pleasure to be back in Iraq again and to meet the Foreign Minister [Mohamad Ali Alhakim]. Before this meeting I had a pleasure to meet the Prime Minister [Adil Abd Al-Mahdi], then I am moving forward meeting the speaker of the Parliament [Mohammed Al-Halbousi] and the President [Barham Salih].
Let me start by saying that I last visited Baghdad in December 2014; I had took office a month or so before. I can see today how the situation has improved here, in Baghdad and in Iraq, with my own eyes. This is to say that Iraq is one of the few positive stories we have had in these years, still fragile, still in need of all the attention and support of the international community.
The European Union is here to express its full support, full solidarity and also common work for stabilising these positive results in Iraq, no only for the sake of the Iraqi people, but also for the sake of security and stability of the entire region. This is a priority for the European Union.
We share completely the approach to a difficult region. Minister [Mohamad Ali Alhakim] and I talked at length about the increasing tensions around Iraq and the need, first and foremost, to avoid escalation, avoid any miscalculation that could lead to very dangerous consequences for Iraq, but also beyond, and the need to de-escalate and find and build avenues for dialogue and living together.
The European experience is that even in the most difficult times it is always better to sit and talk, rather than to explore avenues of the unknown that can be dangerous for everybody. This is why we support completely the idea of a regional conference that Iraq is proposing.
The European Union is fully behind that, fully ready to support this idea in all ways that could be useful. We have always invested in regional cooperation, and we believe - it is our experience - that it is even more important especially where there are problems. It is even more needed to talk when there are problems.
We appreciate and support the balanced international and regional policy Iraq is leading, of good relations with all its neighbors. We stand fully behind you in this approach.
We have also a very solid bilateral cooperation. The European Union has always been investing enormously, politically, but also technically and financially in Iraq, in the most difficult times and now when things are going better.
First of all, with an important investment of more than €1,2 billion for Iraq since the 2014, only coming from the European Union, without considering the support from our Member States. We know that investing in services and investing in humanitarian aid for the population on the ground is the best investment also in security and stability.
We discussed with the Minister [Mohamad Ali Alhakim] and the Prime Minister [Adil Abd Al-Mahdi] ways in which the European Union can further support in particular the stabilisation of the liberated areas and in general terms how we can support the government's reform agenda and the focus on providing services to the population.
We have also discussed how to better implement our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and have agreed to move forward on that in a speedy manner.
We have also discussed a number of regional foreign policy issues on which we have registered an important convergence. Obviously, the regional situation and the need to deescalate and avoid dangerous adventures, but also the situation in Palestine.
We share the position - that the European Union shares with the entire League of Arab States - that only two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both the state of Israel and the future state of Palestine is viable.
We also discussed the situation in Syria and in Libya. We have agreed to intensify our cooperation and our exchanges in the months to come.
I want to conclude by thanking the Minister [Mohamad Ali Alhakim] for a very warm welcome and congratulate him, the authorities of Iraq, the people of Iraq, for having managed to pass through very difficult times. We have been at your side in full solidarity all of these years and even more so we will be with you now that the light starts to be visible at the end of the tunnel.
We want to accompany you, step by step, so that the people of Iraq can benefit from the situation that allows them, finally after so many years, to lead a normal life, hopefully in a region that is free of further conflicts.