BRUSSELS: I am very pleased to welcome you Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, Fuad] Hussein here in Brussels again. It is a pleasure to meet you, because, we, the European Union, have had intense and very good bilateral engagement over the past years with Iraq, and me personally – if I may say – with you and with the government of Prime Minister [of Iraq, Mustafa Al-]Kadhemi. Please, send my best wishes to him.
A stable and prosperous Iraq is something that the Iraqi people need, but also the region as a whole and also us, Europeans [need]. I visited Iraq last September ahead of the Parliamentary elections. These elections were an important step in the consolidation of Iraq’s democracy and long-term stability. We deployed a European Union Election Observation Mission. I want to remark the fact that this was the first such mission to Iraq. And, by the end of February, the Head of the Mission will go to Iraq to deliver the final report of the mission.
Today, we have discussed the tasks of the post-electoral period: cooperation on migration, economic reforms and regional security. These [are] three big important items: cooperation on migration, economic reforms and regional security. And we reconfirmed our ambition to further strengthen relations and to hold the next European Union-Iraq Cooperation Council soon, on the same day of a Foreign Affairs Council in order for you, Minister, to have the possibility to exchange and meet with several colleagues of the European Union.
We are engaged and will remain engaged in Iraq and will continue [with our] close support to Iraq and [we will] increase our cooperation.
Allow me to remember that since 2014, we have provided more than €1.3 billion in financial cooperation, to support economic development, security and humanitarian assistance. But we are not only providing funding. It is important, but also technical assistance. We have been deploying our European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM), offering strategic advice on civilian security and policy reform. We also remain firmly committed to the Global Coalition against Da’esh, a work that is not over yet, despite the big successes that we got in the past. We have to continue fighting against Da’esh.
Our close cooperation and exchanges are producing concrete results, including on the counterterrorism and anti-money laundering fronts. We want to bring this forward. We want to continue building on the very good cooperation on migration from the past months, reinforcing migration management. This is a very important issue for our Member States and I want to thank Iraq for the rapid answer in the middle of the crisis created by Belarus, your immediate reaction contributed to face this crisis.
We are ready to continue partnering with Iraq to consolidate the country’s stability, security and prosperity. We want to see the new government, once formed, succeed with an ambitious socio-economic and governance reform agenda, as demanded by the Iraqi people. We will continue accompanying these efforts, via our Iraq Economic Contact Group that, both of us, we co-chair.
I also want to stress the important and constructive role that Iraq is playing in the region as a bridge-builder. The Iraqi government brought together regional leaders at the Baghdad Conference last year. It was an excellent and unprecedented effort to promote de-escalation, dialogue and regional solutions to the Gulf.
Let me conclude by stressing, once more, that the European Union will continue standing by Iraq and its people in efforts to move towards more stability and prosperity.
Thank you for this visit, Minister, I am looking forward to continuing advancing in our friendship and partnership between the European Union and Iraq.