Challenges ahead and Cooperation
The Cooperation Council under the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Iraq met for the second time in Brussels on 18 October 2016. The meeting was opened by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who headed the EU delegation. The Iraq delegation was led by the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and also included the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Head of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa Bakir. The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis took part in thematic discussions.
With the campaign to liberate Mosul from Da’esh under way, ministers’ discussions were initially focused on Iraq’s immediate humanitarian and stabilisation challenges. Further into the meeting they also reflected on Iraq’s longer term needs.
During the meeting the EU commended the government of Iraq for its efforts to address the current crisis. It outlined the support it is providing for Iraq’s immediate needs through humanitarian aid and assistance for displaced people, covering both short and longer term needs, including education for displaced children. It also discussed with the Iraqi representatives the priority areas of support for the stabilisation of liberated areas in Iraq, including the removal of “booby traps”, so called improvised explosive device (IEDs), which is a precondition for the return of displaced people.
Looking further ahead, the process of peacebuilding and reconciliation in a unified and inclusive Iraqi state are central and unavoidable themes to any discussion on Iraq. At the same time, in recognition of the fact that Iraq’s present crisis and the country’s longer term prospects for stability and prosperity are intricately interwoven, ministers gave considerable thought to Iraq’s long-term prosperity and how EU-Iraq relations can help to unlock the country’s full potential. The Cooperation Council thus reflected not just on the need for political, but also for economic and social inclusiveness. It discussed in particular the need to build up on parallel strands of effort by the EU and Iraq to strengthen democracy and human rights, boost the economy and trade, and ensure that Iraq makes the most of its energy potential.
As well as reviewing existing cooperation, the meeting discussed further steps, including agreement to launch a working group to explore cooperation on energy issues, and the possibility of an informal dialogue on migration.
Finally, the EU-Iraq Cooperation Council also addressed Iraq’s regional relations with its neighbours. The EU reiterated that it fully supports Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right to preserve these. It also stressed the importance of fostering dialogue between Iraq and the countries in the region.
NATO stands in support of Iraq
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari to NATO Headquarters on Tuesday (18 October 2016) for talks on the Alliance’s support to Iraq. The two leaders also discussed political and security developments, including the ongoing fight to liberate Mosul.
The Secretary General commended the success of Iraqi security forces in reclaiming key territories from ISIL. He reiterated NATO’s commitment to provide in-country training and capacity building for Iraq, as requested by Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi and as agreed by Allies at the Warsaw Summit. Allies are now planning for a NATO presence in Iraq, which could conduct in-country training, beginning in January 2017 and which would build on the Alliance’s existing training in Jordan.
During his visit, Minister Al-Jaafari also participated in a meeting of the North Atlantic Council. He addressed domestic and regional security challenges, including progress in the fight against ISIL. The Secretary General noted that NATO AWACS aircraft will soon be flying in direct support of the Counter-ISIL Coalition. Allies stressed that the battle for Mosul is a turning point in the fight against ISIL, and expressed their continued support to sustain the momentum and work of the Global Coalition. Allies also highlighted the need for a sustainable stabilisation effort following the liberation of Mosul and encouraged Iraq to continue implementing policies to bridge ethnic divisions and to build inclusive security forces and state institutions.