Session one : The Situation of Minorities in Iraq
Session two: Looking towards the future
Michael Youash, Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, Washington DC
Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels
Pascale Warda, former Iraqi Minister, Hammorabi Human Rights Organization, Baghdad
H.E. Mohammed Al-Doreky, Ambassador of Iraq to Brussels
General concluding remarks by : Mrs. Ria Oomen-Ruijten, MEP
During Question and Answers Dr. Hassan Aydinli, Iraqi Turkmen Front Europe Representative, addressed the Members of the Panel, drawing their attention to the fact that ALL the communities in Iraq - and particularly in the north of Iraq - who do not possess militias and weapons are threatened and oppressed by the groups who possess militias and weapons.
He said that Iraq today is divided in two groups: those who have armed militias and the others, such as Turkmens and Assyrians who do not, and that unfortunately those who possess militias are imposing their will on the government in Baghdad to serve their own interests.
Dr. Aydinli insisted on the necessity for the EU to get more involved in Iraq to make sure that the rules of democracy are applied in order to preserve the rights of ALL communities and to make sure that EU aid is shared equitably among ALL the communities in Iraq.
At the end of the conference Dr. Aydinli spoke to Ms Esther de Lange, MEP, about the situation prevailing in Iraq today, he brought up the subject of the so-called "contested territories, including Kerkuk" which are concerned by Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution.
He explained that the concept of the so-called "contested territories" is an invention of the Kurdish parties to annex Turkmen territories to their autonomous region, indeed, the majority of the so-called "contested territories" are populated by Turkmens and are historically Turkmen territories.
During the writing of the new Iraqi Constitution the Kurds have opportunistically taken advantage of the abnormal situation prevailing in Iraq to include Article 140 in the Iraqi Constitution. Since then, Kurds are using this Article as a means to obtain extra concessions and extra rights from the Iraqi government. For the Turkmens as well as for the majority of the Iraqis, this Article is null and void since 1st January 2008.
It is unfortunate that the UN Secretary General's Representative in Iraq, Mr. Estefan De Mistura, has proposed to prolong the duration of this Article for a further 6 months, ending 30th June 2008. This initiative of Mr. De Mistura is unconstitutional and it has been strongly disapproved by the majority of Iraqis.
Dr. Aydinli insisted that the EU should be involved in the upcoming provincial elections by sending observers to make sure that the elections this time will be democratic and fair, reminding Ms. de Lange that the last two general elections (Jan and Dec 2005) were rigged.