Address by His Excellency Ali Babacan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, Stockholm, 29 May 2008
Dear Colleagues,

I would like to congratulate the Co-Chairs for convening the First Annual Review of the International Compact with Iraq and thank the Government of Sweden for hosting this meeting. We are pleased to attend ICI meetings as part of our efforts to assist our neighbor, Iraq, during difficult times.

We believe the immense work behind the report of the Government of Iraq and the UN, entitled “A New Beginning”, demonstrates the progress that has been made since the start of the ICI. The intrinsic elements of the ICI in essence are security and international reconciliation. Positive developments in the fields of security and national reconciliation will allow us to contribute to the efforts of the Iraqi Government in all fields.

Within this perspective, we welcome the Iraqi Government’s sound and visionary proposal “Partnership for Development”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Turkey remains strongly committed to supporting the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people with the challenges facing their country. A fully sovereign and unified Iraq based on the principles of democracy, freedom and equality is what we all strive for.

″Compromise″ paves the way for political progress and national reconciliation. Indeed, some of the crucial pieces of legislation have been adopted by the Iraqi parliament in a quite short span of time.

Organizing the provincial elections will lead the way towards general elections by the fall of 2009. Free, fair and inclusive elections will be the bedrock of the nation building process in Iraq.

As responsible members of the international community, we are well aware of Iraq’s huge human and natural resources potential. Iraq’s success in its democratic project will also be our regional and global success. Iraq’s success in supplying the world’s energy markets with its vast resources will be our regional and global success.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our bilateral relations with Iraq are a multi-dimensional integrated whole. Economy, trade, culture, energy are all parts of it.

Turkey enjoys a privileged network of dialogue with all the political groups in Iraq without any exception. We use this network to facilitate the political accommodation and reconciliation among various Iraqi groups.

As being the main initiator of Iraq’s Neighboring Countries Process, we are glad to see that this platform grew to become a unique international forum. It provides an effective guarantee for the unity of Iraq by engaging all the neighbors to that end.

We provide humanitarian, economic, financial, cultural, social and academic assistance to our neighbor on a continuous basis.

Turkey has also been providing extensive technical assistance and supporting the Iraqi authorities in their efforts of capacity building. In this framework, we have been offering training to the Iraqi officials, diplomats, security personnel and also fellowship programs to students. We have also been providing medical assistance and treatment to Iraqi patients in Turkish hospitals.

Sharing a common history, our countries have a vast bilateral economic agenda. Economic cooperation as well as the trade volume between our two countries increase steadily. Turkish businessmen and contractors play a leading role in the recovery of Iraq’s economy. Turkey remains to be the main transportation corridor for manufactured goods going to Iraq. We also supply the much needed refined oil products and electricity to Iraq.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We would like 2008 to mark a boost in our bilateral relations in all fields with Iraq accompanied by high level visits from both sides.

At the same time, we seek to intensify our already strong diplomatic presence in Iraq. Besides our Embassy in Baghdad and Consulate General in Mosul which are fully operational, we will be opening our Consulate General in Basra shortly.

We are also focusing on establishing a secure industrial and trade free zone in the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border in cooperation with Iraq, Kuwait and the U.K.

Excellencies, Esteemed Guests

As I conclude my remarks, I would like to reiterate that the bold and determined steps taken by the Iraqi Government do give us hope that the ICI will succeed. We will do all in our capacity to contribute to this endeavor.

I would like to once again thank our hosts for this excellent organization and thank all the participants for their attention.