Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU-Iraq partnership and cooperation agreement

Delivered in Plenary - 16th January 2013

Mr President

It is clear that Iraq has made some progress since the fall of Saddam Hussein, but key concerns remain about the stability of the country and the state of human rights within it. Iraq’s government is fragile and its people continue to face the daily anxiety of terrorism and intercommunal violence. Only today, ten people were reportedly killed in an attack on political offices in Kirkuk.

The ECR, my group, accepts the need for a PCA; we must engage economically and politically with the Iraqis and help them to realise their aspirations as best we can. Nevertheless, the level of government corruption is a major concern, as is the al-Maliki Shia-dominated support for both Iran and Syria. It has dented its credibility enormously by permitting the flow of Iranian arms to President Assad. We cannot ignore the human rights outlook: well over a hundred inmates were executed last year, with numerous reports of police torture and forced confessions, while women and minorities such as the Christians face acute lack of state protection, and homophobic violence has reportedly been increasing. There are also grave fears over the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.

On a separate note, we are seriously concerned over the threat to send PMOI inmates, now moved to Camp Liberty from Camp Ashraf, back to Iran, with a direct possibility of torture and execution. I do, however, support the prosperity and stability of the Kurdish autonomous democratic region, which is now exporting oil directly to Turkey. We must hope that this stability can be extended to the whole country eventually.