mercredi 16 avril 2008

Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq at the European Parliament in Brussels today

Baroness Nicholson

Meeting chaired by Mr. Saruysz-Wolski Jacek and Baroness Nicholson

Extraordinary joint meeting with the "Permanent ad hoc Delegation of relations with Iraq" on Wednesday 16 April 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels

Exchange of views with H.E. Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq.

The Ambassador of Iraq in Brussels, Mr. Mohammed J. Al-Doreki, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Mr. Hoshyar Zebari were present.

The Iraqi Turkmen Front Europe Representative, Dr. Hassan Aydinli and

Mrs Merry Fitzgerald of Europe-Turkmens of Iraq Friendships attended the meeting.

The meeting was attended by many AFET Members of the European Parliament and over twenty of these MEPs put questions to Mr Al-Maliki.

As usual in such meetings only MEPs of the AFET Committee are allowed to put questions to the guest speaker. Before the meeting started, Dr Hassan Aydinli talked to several MEPs and asked them to question the Iraqi Prime Minister about the Turkmens and the issue of Kerkuk.

Mr Al-Maliki answered that his government does not distinguish between minorities, that he is proud of the different ethnic groups who give 'colour' to the people of Iraq.

He said that Iraq is prepared to hold provincial elections on 1st October 2008 and that these elections would be free and fair and that no interference of militias and outlaws would be tolerated, any party that has armed groups or militias will not take part in the election.

To the question about the withdrawal of US troops, Mr. Al-Maliki said that a sudden withdrawal of US troops would create confusion, that the withdrawal should be organized and planned.

Below is the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) Press release:

Iraq and EU must continue cooperation

The Prime Minister of Iraq spoke on a wide range of topics and answered many questions from the MEPs present.

During the discussion he reaffirmed his commitment to building an Iraq where human rights are universally respected for all Iraqis, no matter their faith or ethnicity. He assured the meeting that the Iraqis were well prepared for the elections on 1st October, and said that foreign neighbours such as Iran, although they had a role to play in fighting terrorism, should not interfere in Iraq's internal affairs.

Baroness Nicholson, who co-chaired the meeting as President of the European Parliament's Iraq delegation, commented:

"We were delighted to welcome the Prime Minister today at an extremely well attended meeting. Both he and the MEPs present tackled serious and challenging issues, but the overriding sentiment of the meeting was that Iraq and the EU should continue to build on their already very close relationship".

"The Prime Minister tackled a number of difficult questions, not least regarding his country's relationship with Iran. He emphasised that the EU, rather than providing direct aid, could help Iraq by providing technical assistance and expertise to increase its ability to use existing natural resources".

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