ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The EU’s Foreign Affairs Chief and the European Commission on Monday presented a proposal to the European Parliament and Council, laying out a strategy for Iraq to manage challenges the country is encountering as it recovers from the territorial defeat of the Islamic State (IS).
The communique highlights both ongoing and long-term EU support to Iraq, taking into consideration the priorities of the federal government.
It mentions that in spite of the territorial defeat of the jihadist group in Iraq, three million people remain internally displaced and “millions more are still in dire need of humanitarian assistance.”
The strategy focuses on delivering continued EU humanitarian assistance to the people in Iraq and facilitating the stabilization of liberated areas.
The proposal also underlines the political challenges in the country, stating “both political reform and national reconciliation should remain at the heart of the Iraqi political establishment's efforts.”
The de-escalation of tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq is another priority emphasized by the EU.
“One urgent priority is to help place relations between the Federal Government and the Government of the Kurdistan Region on a viable and stable footing through a constructive dialogue on all relevant issues across the political, security and economic spectrum,” the document reads, calling on both governments to abide by the Iraqi Constitution.
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated following the Sep. 25, 2017 referendum on independence in the Kurdistan Region, which saw an overwhelming majority favoring statehood.
The European Commission proposes urgent reform of the security apparatus of Iraq to secure the government’s control over the territory.
“Effective and deep security sector reform in both the military and civilian sphere has become an urgent priority in order to consolidate state prerogatives and legitimacy, and to allow for an effective control of the territory and containment of terrorist and criminal threats.”
In an interview with Kurdistan 24, spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ray, said that the EU would help Iraq rebuild itself quickly with the participation of all the ethnic and religious groups in the country.
“It is very important to make sure that there is an inclusive process where every part of the society contributes to consolidate and reform the country,” Ray said.
The EU has been one of the leading donors of humanitarian aid to Iraq. Since 2015, the EU has provided €350 million in emergency assistance to people affected by conflict in the country.
“The level of support the EU delivers to Iraq should be linked to the country's commitment to reform, its respect for democratic principles, inclusiveness, the non-use of violence and the prioritization of civilian state institutions in security and political governance,” the EU strategy notes.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Barzan Hassan contributed to this report)