Dáil Éireann - Volume 588 - 24 June, 2004

Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

  19. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the EU plans for beginning to normalise relations with Iraq once an interim Iraqi Government is put in place. [18853/04]

  Mr. Cowen: The EU’s goal is to see the restoration of an independent, democratic, peaceful and sovereign Iraq to the international community. With this in mind and in light of Security Council Resolution 1546 and the imminent transfer of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi Government, the EU has adopted a medium-term strategy for its relations with Iraq. The strategy provides the Union with a framework to continue its assistance to the Iraqi people. The Union has pledged €700 million to [160] the end of 2004 for the reconstruction and development of the Iraqi economy and society.

The strategy sets out three major objectives: the development of a secure, stable and democratic Iraq; the establishment of an open, stable, sustainable and diversified market economy and society; and Iraq’s economic and political integration into its region and the open international system.

The strategy envisages three phases for progressive engagement with Iraq, immediate, post-election and medium term. It reflects the three distinct phases anticipated by Security Council Resolution 1546. It will allow involvement to increase in a progressive manner and the strategy to adapt to changing circumstances. Proposed options for short-term engagement include: continued provision of technical, economic and reconstruction assistance; establishing close engagement with UN teams, including on preparations for elections; enhancing the representation of the EU in Iraq, as circumstances permit; beginning a process of political dialogue; and encouraging regional support for the political and reconstruction process in Iraq. In July GAERC will consider the specific recommendations and agree appropriate first steps to take.

The realisation of the objectives set out will depend on the degree to which they are shared by a future Iraqi government and the evolution of the security and political situation in Iraq. Consultation with the Iraqi administration and society is of paramount importance. The EU is also committed to ensuring that any actions it implements are in full co-ordination with the United Nations, both on the ground and in international fora. The Union also intends to co-ordinate closely with the World Bank, the IMF and other financial institutions.

We remain concerned at the continuing violence in Iraq and of the difficulties it poses for the Iraqi people in their daily lives and for the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and the reconstruction of the country. Our framework provides for progressively closer EU-Iraq relations but its pace will be determined by progress in the political transition and the security climate.