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[casi] EU Council and Commission statement on the situation in Iraq

      Situation in Iraq - call to overcome divisions
      Council and Commission statement on the situation in Iraq
      Debate: 03.09.2003
      Franco FRATTINI, the Italian Foreign Minster, opening the debate on
the situation in Iraq stated that the recent horrific bombings had blackened
the international community's view of the current situation in Iraq. For Mr
Frattini, Iraq was growing the first shoots of democracy, and there were
genuine reasons to believe that Iraq was going through a real renewal
process. He said those people that attacked the UN headquarters in Baghdad,
were attacking all people who supported the rule of law and those trying to
ensure a secure future for Iraq.

      The Minister stated that it was extremely important that the number of
countries involved in maintaining peace in Iraq increases. Indeed, the
Minister said that this had been a priority of the Italian Presidency.

      Ultimately, he remarked, those that aim to destroy the work of a
coalition would fail since they were in fact acting against every actors'

      The Minister went on to stress the importance of UN Resolution 1500
which gave a specific mandate to the UN for reconstruction. The Minister
also underlined the importance of the forthcoming Madrid reconstruction
conference to be held from 22-24 October, and stated that the highest number
of countries as possible should attend the meeting and as much financial aid
for reconstruction as possible should be donated. Mr Frattini stated that it
was in the European tradition to help those in need and that pre-war
divisions were now in the past. Reconstruction, he remarked, should focus
not only on hard security but also on humanitarian issues. The EU, he
stated, should help to rebuild and strengthen the Iraqi institutions for

      Commissioner Chris PATTEN paid warm tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello
and condemned the bombing of 19 August, saying attacks on the UN should be
seen as war crimes. He also underlined the need for a powerful International
Criminal Court. Past disagreements between Europeans should now be
overlooked, he added, saying it was time to turn to the future. A number of
needs could be identified: military security, a non-military commitment by
international actors, a sustainable financial commitment and a willingness
to work through the UN and its associate bodies.

      As to what the European Commission had done so far, he first paid
tribute to ECHO (the EU Humanitarian Office). He added that the Commission
had drafted proposals for a European approach to the reconstruction of Iraq,
as requested by the Thessaloniki summit. In conversations with US officials
including Colin Powell, he had stressed the need for a multilateral
framework - and he was sure the European Parliament would support no other
approach. Commission staff were in constant contact with bodies such as the
World Bank and were making preparations for the upcoming Madrid donors'
conference on 23-24 October, which was a key event.

      Funding was crucial and he himself had made contact with the relevant
Parliamentary committees to discuss budgetary needs. He acknowledged the
need to work within the Financial Perspective but stressed that the
provision of funding for Iraq must not be to the detriment of Afghanistan
and Palestine.

      The Commissioner said he believed everyone had learnt lessons from the
Iraq conflict, one such lesson being that the EU was "incomparably more
effective" when it worked together. He concluded by welcoming the removal of
a wicked dictator and the prospects for a better life for the people of

      Elmar BROK (D), for the EPP-ED group, called for a joint effort to
restore stability in Iraq. He stated that the end of the war had not lead to
the beginning of peace. One country's resources for reconstruction would not
be enough, pointing to the US's $50 billion deficit. It would be for the
international community to take joint actions, and make financial
contributions at the forthcoming donor conference. Mr Brok was also
concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, as he said there was not a
fair distribution of power within the country, this he added, was also true
for Iraq.

      Enrique BARÓN CRESPO (E) for the PES group also sent his group's
condolences to the families of those who had lost loved ones through
terrorism in Iraq. He stated that the recent horrific bombings bared all the
hallmarks of a classic resistance movement. Moreover, he called on the
international community to reconsider its past divisions prior to the war.

      More troops, he stated, was not the answer. It was now important to
set out a clear timetable for reconstruction of the country. He stated that
the policy of pre-emptive strikes had clearly failed, and he also criticised
the Bush Administration for not being prepared for post-war Iraq. Mr Barón
Crespo also called on the UK and France to work more closely together. Above
all, he stated, the logic of occupation must change to a logic of
sovereignty of Iraq for the Iraqis.

      For the Liberal Group, Graham WATSON (ELDR, UK) paid tribute to Sergio
Vieira de Mello and to other victims of the bombing. He described the
situation in Iraq as unstable and violent and said that, as so often,
winning the peace was proving harder than winning the war. His group backed
the tentative moves towards adopting a UN resolution on a multilateral
framework for Iraq, which would still allow the US to retain command of any
multilateral military force.

      The failure to find weapons of mass destruction had raised doubts
about the legitimacy of the war. Now legitimacy must be restored through
involvement of the UN and a government with a popular mandate. Swearing in
the Governing Council was one step forward.

      Pernille FRAHM (EUL/NGL, DK) argued that the failure to find weapons
of mass destruction showed that the UN inspectors should have been given
more time. Her group had said the arrival of foreign troops would be
regarded as both a liberation and an occupation: they had been right. The
recent attacks showed that the Iraqi people felt "occupied" and that the
occupation was generating tensions between different Iraqi groups. The
situation was also weakening the UN, although the USA now realised it needs
the world body. She reminded the House that her group had nominated Hans
Blix for the Sakharov Prize, to send a signal in support of the UN system.

      For the Greens/EFA Group, Daniel Marc COHN-BENDIT (F) paid tribute to
Mr De Mello and several of his co-workers. He then said that there was a
major danger: that of focusing on the USA's mistakes while overlooking
Europe's own weaknesses. Europe had never said how it would get rid of
Saddam Hussein. But since Saddam was gone, it was important to help the US
and the UK overcome their isolation. These countries were now saying they
wanted UN involvement but in his view this was purely because of the
financial burden of the occupation. The EU should in fact propose a
"stability conference" for the whole region. He certainly did not believe
that holding elections in one year's time would solve Iraq's problems.

      Gerard COLLINS (UEN, Munster) speaking on behalf of his group, said US
forces could not ensure security, banditry was rife and this was not the
first time that a war had been won but the peace lost. The Governing
Council, he argued, did not have the support of the Iraqi people and he
stressed the need for UN to have a central role in the economic and
political transition in Iraq.

      Bastiaan BELDER (EDD, NL) for the EDD Group, asked what the EU
institutions could do for the Iraqi people and concluded that they should
recognise the Iraqi Governing Council, provide financial support and invite
the Iraq foreign minister to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

      Emma BONINO (I), for the Independent Members, endorsed Mr
Cohn-Bendit's view that the US had made mistakes but that Europe had, as she
put it, "no policy" on Iraqi. Support for the reconstruction effort was not
enough, nor was backing the UN, which was only the sum of its parts.
Rebuilding the country was crucial but the first need was to devise a
genuine EU policy on Iraq.

      Baroness Emma NICHOLSON (ELDR, South East) stated that Iraq now truly
belonged to the Iraqi people. Her tortured past, under Saddam Hussein was
now over. Bringing those responsible to justice, and securing Iraq's borders
were now essential. Baroness Nicholson called for NATO to take control of
military operations in Iraq. This was essential, she stated, for the UN to
carry out its work effectively. Europe, she remarked, has several decades of
experience of rebuilding nations, it was now due time to call on this

      John HUME (PES, Northern Ireland) hoped that the war in Iraq would be
the last war that the world ever had to face. Mr Hume stressed the
importance of the "philosophy of peace and the promotion of dialogue". He
stated that the EU should send these principles to areas of conflict. The
first half of the last century, he pointed out, had been extremely bloody,
the second half much less so, and this was due to, in no small measure the
philosophy of the European Union. The philosophy being the "respect for
differences and the creation of institutions so as to work for a common
interest." He called for the EU to create a Commissioner and a Department
for Peace and Reconciliation which could be sent with these principles to
resolve and prevent conflict. Difference he said was the "essence of
humanity" since no two human beings were exactly the same.

      Jonathan EVANS (EPP-ED, UK), like other speakers, paid his respects to
Sergio Vieira de Mello. He then made a heartfelt tribute to one of his own
constituents, Dewi Pritchard of Bridgend, South Wales, a member of the UK
Territorial Army and a military policeman, who had been killed in Iraq. He
went on to say it was clear that security and stability were now "paramount
concerns" in Iraq. The Governing Council should receive full support. And
while the UN had a key role to play, calls for the UN to take over were
misplaced. The US and UK forces must be strongly backed.

      In his response to the debate, Minister Frattini, commented that the
attacks on the UN were not only a problem for the coalition forces in Iraq
but also for the entire international community. He stressed that terrorism,
such as suicide bombings, could never be justified. He called on the
international community to look to the future and to overcome past
difficulties. Europe, he stated, should speak with one voice at the UN, and
stated that it was an aim of the Italian Presidency to have single seat for
the EU at the UN.

      Winding up the debate, Commissioner Chris Patten welcomed the support
for ECHO voiced during the debate. Alluding to Mr Hume's speech, he
expressed respect for his views but said that on one point he differed: the
international rule of law sometimes needed the sanction of force.

      He agreed with much of what had been said in the debate: on the need
for a regional dimension involving the whole Middle East, the importance of
the UN's role, the need to involve the people of Iraq (here he stressed the
need to build democracy from the bottom up) and the lack of a European
policy. On the latter point he stressed that it was not enough just to sign
cheques and he went on to say that the Madrid donors' conference must not
just focus on the "contents of the collection box". A proper assessment of
Iraq's requirements over the next 15 months was needed, together with ways
of meeting those requirements. There was a need for a multilateral umbrella
in the form of a transparent international trust fund, separate from the
Iraqi development fund and the coalition. Without such guarantees he was
sure the EU budgetary authority would not agree to provide funding.
Reasonable security was another key requirement - an improvement on this
front being essential. Lastly, there must be an early transfer to the Iraqi
people of the authority to manage their own affairs. The establishment of
the Governing Council was the first step.

      Mr Patten concluded by saying that there was a rocky road ahead and
the sooner a start was made, the better.

      The Foreign Affairs Committee will draw up a motion for a resolution
on Iraq which will be voted on during the September II plenary session in

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