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Iraq's Fate Linked To Entire Region, Says Zebari


European Parliament

Iraq's fate "will determine fate of entire region" says Foreign Minister Zebari

Security, relations with Turkey and the integrity of the country were among the issues discussed on Tuesday when Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari held talks with EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering.

The Kurds and an EU-Iraq parliamentary delegation were also discussed during Mr Zebari's visit to Brussels where he also met senior EU and NATO officials. Whilst at the EP we managed to question him on his troubled nation. He told us Iraq's fate "would determine the fate of the entire region".

In remarks after their meeting Mr Pöttering welcomed the improved security situation in the country saying that "Iraq seems to be on the right track". He also defended the integrity of the state and in a reference to tensions with Turkey he said that "no neighbouring country should interfere".

Speaking to the Parliament's website Mr Zebari gave us a frank assessment of the picture from Baghdad.

Mr Zebari, what role can the EU play in the region?

There is the EU mission in Bagdad, so the EU is represented and it has been very helpful. The EU is carrying a number of programs that involve the support for human rights and the rule of law. One of them is dedicated to training of judges and prison wardens in standards of protecting human rights. The EU is also a major donor that supports Iraq in a number of projects.

We then asked him about the situation in Iraq.

The improved security situation in Iraq is a major achievement, it is a turning point. On this basis we accordingly expect more support and more engagement from the European Union. My message is that we need a collective approach from the EU towards the situation in Iraq. Iraq is a very important country and what happens there will determine the fate of the entire region.

The President of the Iraqi Parliament Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani asked MEPs to help build a democracy in Iraq when he visited the EP last month. How can this be done?

I am very pleased that there will be an ad hoc parliamentary delegation and Iraqi parliamentarians will get support in training towards capacity building, drafting of legislation and technical areas linked to democracy. This is a new experience for Iraq and the EP has a huge expertise as an organisation as do the individual MEPs. They can help us to strengthen our democratic constitution.

On the situation in the Kurdish region of Iraq (where Turkey is considering military action against PKK attacks on its territory), what is the response of the Iraqi Government?

We understand fully the legitimate Turkish security concerns about any terrorist attack that could harm their people. On the other hand, we believe that it is the responsibility of all countries to respect the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq by not interfering or undermining the current relatively stable situation in the North and in other parts of Iraq.

ENDS

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