Summary: 2 October 2007, Brussels – Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, met European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering Monday in the course of a two-day visit to Brussels. He and a group of Iraqi MPs met with the EP Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday.
The first elected Iraqi speaker to visit the EP, he discussed refugees, EU-Iraq relations, the establishment of a new bilateral inter-parliamentary delegation and the future role of EU diplomatic representation in the region.
Mr Pöttering welcomed the visit: “We feel very committed to the great challenges Iraq is facing, especially we see with greatest regret the suffering of its people”. He added: “we insist on the sovereignty of Iraq…it is the responsibility of the international community to do its utmost so that peace, sovereignty, freedom and democracy have a chance.”
The President said, “The EP clearly positions itself in favour of the integrity of the Iraqi nation, we are supporting within our limits and responsibilities all efforts aiming at ethical and religious reconciliation. We are already supporting economically and socially the development of the country and we will continue doing so. We know security is the basis of everything, without it there is no hope.”
Commenting on the economic situation, he said Iraq is “a rich nation” and it is very important that “Iraq and the Iraqis can make autonomous use of all its resources" to achieve further development.
What the speaker had to say
We had the opportunity to ask Mr Mashhadani some questions about his country and its relations with the EU.
Iraqis participated enthusiastically in parliamentary elections and massively supported the country's new constitution. Yet it seems very hard to restore normal political life to the country. Why?
Because of the occupation. We do not have full sovereignty yet…and no democratic practises or experiment can be complete without full sovereignty. Do you know about the Petraeus plan which was adopted by the US congress...is it natural that the future and the plans of Iraq should be decided upon in the US Congress? There is a big problem and there is a giant lie which has to do with sovereignty.
What can the EU do, politically, diplomatically and practically, to help Iraq overcome its current difficulties and help entrench democracy?
First of all we hope that UN will be able to play an important role and that the EU will help us to fight poverty and to make a real reconciliation...With its support we will succeed in security and sovereignty and this will allow a beginning for the future of my country. It is a very great pleasure to see that the EU has open arms and open ears… we count on the strong friendship between us.
What do you expect to gain from your visit to the European Parliament?
I expect the EP's support for the Iraqi Parliament and for the reconstruction of my country...and also to balance the American stay in Iraq.
Mr Mashhadani also welcomed the idea of a future standing parliamentary delegation between the EP and the Iraqi Parliament "to strengthen our relationship”. “We are now studying this project, there is already an initial plan for the structure and we will continue to work on it.”