The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, conducted an official visit to Iraq ahead of the general elections in Iraq on October 10.
High Representative Borrell met with the Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein where the duo discussed security matters, immigration, and the upcoming general elections. Borrell also underlined the EU’s “strong partnerships” with Iraq.
He confirmed in a joint press conference following the meeting that the EU will deploy international observers and provide support during the run-up to the elections to ensure the safety of Iraqis and the electoral process. “The elections are an important step for Iraq and we seek to hold fair and correct elections in Iraq,” the representative said.
Borrell also met with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, where they reiterated the importance of Iraqi-European relations in political, economic, and cultural fronts.
Following meetings with Iraqi government officials, Borrell traveled to Erbil where he met the President of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani. The two reportedly discussed press freedom in the KRG, rule of law, climate change and the efforts to fight against ISIS.
“We agreed on the importance of freedom of expression and the media as part of a healthy democratic discourse, of a vibrant civil society, of fair trials fully in line with domestic law and meeting international standards,” Josep Borrell proclaimed following the meeting.
Barzani reiterated the KRG’s commitment to promoting shared democratic values.
Barzani also called on the EU to support KRG’s efforts to combat climate change. “Climate change is threatening Iraq’s security and progress,” he claimed, calling for increased cooperation between the two sides regarding the environmental portfolio.
On the security front, Borrell ensured the KRG President that the EU is “ready to provide advice and expertise on civilian security sector” and that the EU has a “permanent presence in Erbil.”