European Parliament assists reconciliation efforts in Iraq

irak-bxl-conference-santegidio-1After two years of brutal and criminal rule by Islamic State terrorists, the people of northern Iraq are finally hopeful of an end to their suffering. This week the European Parliament brought together religious leaders from the region, as well as religious organisations involved in peace and reconciliation work, to start preparing for a return to normal life.

The conference, hosted at the European Parliament in Brussels by Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the Parliament in charge of religious dialogue was entitled “Expectations and challenges to Iraqi National Reconciliation”. The main organisers of the conference were the Sant’Egidio Community, which has a strong track record of peace and reconciliation work.

Religious representatives at the conference included:

  • Louis Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans
  • Ali Tahseen, religious leader of the Yazidis

Participants also included representatives of the Iraqi Government:

  • Ali Abdullah Alkhateeb, Deputy Director for Shiite Religious Affairs
  • Abdullateef Hmeyem, Director of Sunni Religious Affairs
  • Ameer Taher Hussein, Director of the Legislative Office

The battle for Mosul and the retake of Daesh-controlled area raise once more the question of the future of Iraq’s coexistence. The protection of religious minorities, land redistribution, return of internally-displaced persons are among the challenges facing the Iraqi authorities. This work on national reconciliation was largely missing in the past. It is today on the agenda of the Iraqi Committee for National Reconciliation.

The Supreme Presidential Committee for National Reconciliation was created by the Iraqi President and the highest authorities of the country to implement the aims of the Iraqi reconciliation plan: to establish national cohabitation and reconciliation through dialogue, peaceful resolution of conflicts and the preservation of cultural and religious pluralism.

Mgr Louis Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldean, asked the EU to support the creation of reconciliation mechanisms and to prepare the post Islamic State reconstruction through a roadmap involving all relevant actors.

This conference follows on from the European Parliament’s resolution of 27 October 2017 on the situation in Northern Iraq/Mosul which called on the European Union, the United Nations and the entire international community to work with the national and regional governments of the Republic of Iraq to oversee the reintegration of all the Iraqis and ethnic and religious minorities who have been displaced.