The situation in Iraq
plenay session Thursday 24 June 2004
Mr PLATVOET (Netherlands). – It makes sense to analyse the reasons in the recent past for this wrong war. For instance, it would be irresponsible not to look at the role of the big United States industries during the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and their interests in rebuilding Iraq after the bombing. It would also be wrong not to analyse the United States misuse of its position. However, it also makes sense to look forward. The recent United Nations resolution provides a good basis for the restoration of full sovereignty to the Iraqi people and allows a bigger role for the international community. A lot now depends on the way in which that resolution is implemented.
The interim government that starts work on 1 July will face enormous challenges. First and foremost, it will have to be representative of all Iraqi people. It should work hard to win their trust and fulfil their understandably high expectations after a year of broken promises and occupation. Its biggest challenge is to provide a climate that enables citizens to exercise their fundamental right to elect their representatives to the national assembly by January 2005, in fair and democratic elections. Democratic forces in Europe and their representatives in the Council of Europe can make an important contribution to these efforts and that would be of enormous political significance in terms of its impact inside Iraq, reinforcing the conviction among ordinary Iraqis, especially democrats, that they are not alone in the fight. It would give a powerful boost to the morale of the Iraqi people who are now in despair about the prospects for a democratic future.
What can we do? We can use our expertise on election procedures and campaigning, training personnel to help in the organisation and structure of elections. There should be regulations to ensure fair and equal access to funding and resources including the media. We can send delegations throughout the coming period – not just immediately before and during elections, and then after – to monitor the preparations and ensure that the elections have progressed in a satisfactory manner. Such an effort should cover the major population centres in Iraq.
We should publish a report and give media coverage to the findings by delegations and monitoring teams in Iraq and these can be provided to the relevant European bodies. We should highlight and report any violations of democratic procedures and norms during the months leading up to elections and make recommendations to tackle and remedy these shortcomings.
Yesterday we adopted a document on the prevention of war and conflict, which stated that war is not a solution to problems. The best way of ensuring that in this case lies in the hands of the American electors next November, who can prevent a second term for the Bush administration.