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President Barroso on the Iraqi elections

Statement of President Barroso on the Iraqi elections

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso welcomes Sunday’s elections as an important step towards democracy and stability in Iraq.

“Despite great difficulties, it was a great day for democracy and liberty. The people of Iraq sent a strong signal of commitment to the democratic values that we in Europe so treasure and defend. I would like to congratulate the Iraqi people on the holding of their first pluralist national and governorate elections, and applaud all those who cast their votes in significant numbers in most parts of the country. Exercising their democratic right to vote in the face of terrible violence took immense courage on the part of Iraqi men and women and I pay tribute to their bravery and commitment to democratic change.

These elections are encouraging steps forward on what we hope will be the road to democracy and stability.

We must all regret the violent acts, the loss of life and the casualties that occurred.

We look to the government that is formed as a result of these elections to act in the name of the whole country, and takes its responsibilities to represent all communities.

And we trust that the transitional Constitutional Assembly established on the basis of this vote will ensure that the voices of all Iraqis are heard, not least in the process of drafting a new Iraqi Constitution.

The European Commission has already demonstrated its commitment to support the political transition in Iraq, devoting €31.5 million to the preparation of the elections including through its contribution to the UN Trust Fund for Iraq and the deployment of European electoral experts to work directly with the Independent Electoral Commission in Baghdad, and the training of 170 local election observers. We will continue to support the Iraqis through the critical process of drafting a constitution and holding further elections in 2005.

The Commission stands ready to work with and support the new Iraqi authorities.

We will be a significant partner for the new administration. The Commission is proposing a further €200 million in assistance for Iraq in 2005, to build on the €320 million that we have already made available since 2003.”

The European Commission has provided substantial financial and technical support (€31.5 million) for the running of the elections including through its contribution to the UN Trust Fund for Iraq and the deployment of European electoral experts to work directly with the Independent Electoral Commission in Baghdad, and the training of 170 local election observers.

The European Commission wishes, in particular, to congratulate the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq and its Chairman Mr Abdul-Hussein al Hindawi, for its management of a complex electoral process in very demanding conditions. It salutes the work of the United Nations in providing technical assistance throughout the electoral process and would like to commend the courage and dedication of domestic observer groups, including those trained in the past months as part of a European Commission sponsored domestic observer training programme in Jordan.

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