On February 18th, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo talked with Iraqi President Salih, with Prime Minister Mahdi and with the Iraqi Minister of Planning in Baghdad. Minister De Croo is on a working visit in Iraq together with European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides. They discussed the battle against ISIS, the humanitarian situation and the reconstruction of the country.
The joint visit of the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and the European Commissioner comes at an important moment, one year after the fall of ISIS in Iraq and shortly after the new government is in place. It reveals the importance that Belgium and the European Union attach to sustainable peace in Iraq.
Strong and Stable Government
Deputy Prime Minister De Croo congratulated the Iraqi president and the new Prime Minister for the formation of a new government after the parliamentary elections of May last year. “In order to work on reconstruction, reconciliation between communities and address humanitarian needs, a strong and stable Iraqi government is of utmost importance.”
Minister De Croo also emphasized the importance of rebuilding in Baghdad. “When the local population does not feel like progress is being made, frustration will only increase, opening the door to the return of radical groups. That is why Europe has to further increase its efforts to stabilize Iraq, even from the perspective of enlightened self-interest. The last few years have shown that instability and conflict in Iraq also permeate through to Belgium and Europe. As European countries, we will have to focus more on sharing our expertise with regard to justice, police reform and education for instance. Those are the crucial challenges for the further stabilization of Iraq.”