Check Against Delivery
Germany welcomes the formation of the new government led by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. We hope that the government formation process will be concluded swiftly, including through appointments of women to cabinet positions.
Since last October, the people of Iraq have raised and continue to raise a wide range of serious and legitimate demands. We have taken good note of the fact that the declared priorities of Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi's government and indeed initial measures announced by his Cabinet reflect these demands.
Those priorities include preparation of early elections, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis, concentrating control of arms in the hands of the state; adopting the federal budget for 2020; conducting a national dialogue; investigating violence against protesters; safeguarding Iraqi sovereignty; continuing the fight against corruption; and securing the return of internally displaced persons. That's a heavy agenda, and we wish the government every success in addressing all these important issues.
We call on the Iraqi government and all Iraqi political leaders to take swift and effective action with a view to implementing urgently required reforms in order to regain public trust and to improve the lives of the Iraqi people.
We also join the Secretary-General in his call for a political process in which women, youth and all of Iraq's diverse communities, including ethnic, religious and other minorities, can actively participate. Implementation of substantial reforms has become even more urgent in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting political, economic, security, social and health challenges.
Germany, as a friend of Iraq and as one of Iraq's leading donors, stands ready to continue its substantial support to Iraq and to work closely together with the new Iraqi government in addressing those challenges and building a prosperous and stable Iraq.
In this context, we also remain concerned about the difficulties faced by national and international NGOs. Since December 2019, which affect a critical work on humanitarian stabilization and development efforts, as mentioned and aluded to by the SRSG, the absence of an efficient access procedures procedure for NGOs regrettably now also affects the response to COVID-19.
We remain deeply concerned by reports of arrests and violence against protesters, civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists. In response to popular protests, serious human rights violations and abuses against peaceful protesters have occurred. We trust that the Iraqi government will live up to its commitment and obligation to protect all peaceful protestors, civil society activists and human rights defenders and their fundamental rights. We welcome, Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi's personal commitment to this effect. All crimes that have been committed in the context of protests should be investigated independently and transparently, and accountability remains of utmost importance in this context. In this respect, we are encouraged by initial steps of the Al-Kadhimi government to release detainees arrested during the protests and push forward with investigations.
On the relations between Baghdad and Erbil: we welcome the continued dialogue and negotiations that the SRSG has referred to and encourage both sides to resolve all outstanding issues, including those related to natural resources, revenue sharing and security arrangements.
Before concluding, Mr. President, one final word: we remain concerned by the impact of regional tensions on Iraq and call for continued deescalation and restraint by all regional and international players. 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. We very much condemn the repeated rocket attacks on counter ISIL coalition troops in Iraq. Such attacks are unacceptable and put the successes achieved in the fight against the Islamic State at risk. It is crucial that cooperation between the government of Iraq and its international partners in the fight against terror. He continued, Otherwise, Iraq and the international community will face a real and high risk of a resurgence of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the region.