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I would like to make five rather short points. The first one is on the government of Iraq. Germany welcomes the first measures undertaken by the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. These measures and the declared priorities of Prime Minister al-Kadhimi’s government go into the right direction: they aim to address the legitimate needs and demands of the Iraqi people. It remains important to see a veritable commitment of the Iraqi government to implement the much-needed political, social and economic reforms. We welcome first measures on anti-corruption as positive first step.
My second remark is on the electoral process. We note the government’s announcement of early parliamentary elections for 6 June 2021. Germany stands ready to support UNAMI in its electoral assistance efforts during the preparations for next year’s elections. Elections have to be held in a free, fair and democratic manner. Germany as one of Iraq’s leading donors stands ready to continue its substantial support to Iraq and to work closely together with the Iraqi government in addressing the challenges and in building a prosperous and stable Iraq.
My third remark is on violence against peaceful protesters and accountability. We remain deeply concerned by reports of ongoing arrests and acts of violence and intimidation against protesters, civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists. We condemn in particular the recent targeted assassinations of activists in Basra and Baghdad. Systematic attempts to threaten and prevent people from exercising their fundamental right to peaceful assembly and their freedom of expression are unacceptable. We welcome the Iraqi government’s stated commitment to protect all peaceful protesters, civil society activists and human rights defenders and their fundamental rights. We reiterate the importance of accountability and welcome Prime Minister al-Kadhimi’s pledge to end impunity. We are encouraged by the government’s initial steps to release detainees arrested during the protests and to push forward with investigations.
My fourth remark is on relations between Baghdad and Erbil. We welcome the continued dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil and their interim agreement. We encourage both sides to speedily resolve all outstanding issues, including those related to natural resources, revenue-sharing and security arrangements.
My fifth and last point regards regional tensions. This has been addressed by several colleagues. We remain concerned by the impact of regional tensions on Iraq and call for continued de-escalation and restraint by all regional and international players. Iraq’ sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected and Iraq should neither be dragged into, nor become an arena for, a regional confrontation. Instead, Iraq should be able to enjoy amicable relations with all its neighbors and partners. All differences must be resolved through diplomatic means.
It remains crucial that cooperation between the Government of Iraq and its international partners in the fight against terrorism will be continued, particularly to prevent a resurgence of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and in the region.