I would first of all like to thank Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as Minister Zebari, for their statements
I would like to join in the tribute paid to Ambassador Holbrooke. As a European I would like in particular to recall the role that he played in the Dayton accords which put and end to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
France is pleased to partake in this meeting which marks progress in the process to restore Iraq’s full sovereignty. Today’s session is an opportunity for France and the entire Council to welcome the progress made by Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Republic of Iraq is, at all levels - political, institutional, in terms of security - on the right track towards completing the reconstruction and normalisation efforts. The vigour of its economy is best reflected by the interest of foreign investors in Iraq.
The most recent political developments in Iraq give us reason to hope for full normalisation at the institutional level. We do hope that the agreement reached between all of the Iraqi political groups on 11 November aimed at the formation of a national partnership government will swiftly come to fruition. We all have confidence in the fact that the spirit of responsibility demonstrated by the Iraqi leaders to overcome their differences will prevail in order resolve the final outstanding issues ahead of the effective formation of the government. In so doing, the Iraqi political stakeholders have made a choice to meet the challenges of Iraq’s future and we want to lend them our full support.
France clearly chose to stand alongside the Iraqi people and leaders on this path towards normalisation. This commitment is firstly a political commitment reflected by many high-level visits: President Sarkozy, like the Prime Minister, made visits to Baghdad during the last two years. This commitment is accompanied by a resolute commitment on the ground, with the resumption of our bilateral cooperation in areas of defense, industry, agriculture, domestic security, governance, environment and culture.
This support is amply reflected at the international level; France lends its full support to the legitimate request expressed by the Iraqi authorities to allow Iraq to regain the international status that it had before August 1990. Resolution 1859, which we sponsored in 2008, established this objective. Two years later, while Iraq has made considerable efforts to prepare for this, the Council has ended today three components of the measures taken under Chapter VII. France welcomes this.
The Council indicated on 26 February its readiness to lift the restrictions relating to weapons of mass destruction and civilian nuclear activities once all the necessary measures have been effectively taken, and we can now commend the efforts made by Iraq in this area. The lifting of restrictions with respect to disarmament and non-proliferation - highly symbolic in terms of past mistakes - will allow the new Iraq to access technology that has until now been banned. It’s on this basis of renewed trust that we call upon the Iraqi authorities to continue their efforts, by entering into the international commitments that will enshrine the end of these painful episodes.
France is also pleased that Iraq is regaining full sovereignty over its oil revenues. The fact that Oil for Food is ending is a strong symbol of the normalisation of Iraq’s international status and its return to full sovereignty.
While France was unable to support this text today, clearly that is not because its objective poses the slightest problem. That objective—allowing Iraq to regain full sovereignty over the funds retained under the Oil for Food program—is one that, obviously, we fully support.
It is a question of implementation, an issue of great technical complexity. Intense but belated discussions were undertaken to come up with a text that all Council members, including France, could support. Unfortunately, these discussions did not result in a text within the necessary time frame that included all the guarantees we consider necessary to end the programme. We hope that our demands will be thoroughly taken into account when the agreements provided by the resolution are implemented.
Iraq must emerge completely from chapter VII. In this sense, we welcome the progress made by the governments of Iraq and Kuwait to find a solution to the issues still pending between them, and we urge them to strengthen cooperation. To this end, it is crucial for Iraq to implement without delay the latest international obligations incumbent upon it under Council resolutions. As it has done up to now, France will continue to support the Iraqi government’s efforts, in consultation with all the concerned actors, to take the necessary measures enabling Iraq become a nation that is fully integrated in its regional and international environment.
The UN, whether in the form of the Security Council or UNAMI—whose courageous work on the ground we salute—will continue to support this objective. France wants to reiterate its willingness to help these two friendly countries, if they express the need, to lay the groundwork for ambitious cooperation. This next stage, we hope, will swiftly highlight the process of regional reintegration, which Iraq has initiated successfully, and which we fully support.