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Subject: Delegation for Relations with Iraq Meeting at the EU Parliament in Brussels on 1st June 2010.


ITF Europe Representative Dr. Hassan AYDINLI received an invitation from Member of European Parliament Mr. Struan STEVENSON Chairman of the Delegation-Iraq, to attend the Delegation for Relations with Iraq meeting at the European Parliament on Tuesday 1st June 2010.


The Delegation for Relations with Iraq met to:


-          Approve the minutes of the meeting of 26th April 2010 *


-          Exchange views on the Syrian – Iraqi relation, as well as on the situation of Iraqi refugees in Syria, in the presence of H.E. Mr. Mohammad Ayman Jameel SOUSSAN, Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic


The meeting was chaired by Mr. Struan STEVENSON

and co-chaired by MEP Mrs. Esther de LANGE, Vice-Chair Delegation for Relations with Iraq


Other EU representatives who attended the meeting were: -

- Mr. Andres PERELLO RODRIGUEZ, MEP, Member of Delegation for relations with Iraq

- Mrs. Alexandra THEIN, MEP, Member of Delegation for relations with Iraq

- Representatives of the European Commission


Attendees on the Iraqi side:

- Representatives of the Iraqi Embassy in Brussels

- ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli, accompanied by Mrs. Merry Fitzgerald

- Kurdish representatives in Brussels


The Chairman Mr. Struan STEVENSON  referred briefly at the current political situation in Iraq, saying that the recount of the votes had taken place in Baghdad but that the bargaining was still going on to form the new government and that there is still a political vacuum.


Mr. Struan STEVENSON deplored the assassination of a Member of the Iraqiyya list.

Mrs. de LANGE MEP, referred to the voting for the Iraqi Parliamentary election which took place in UTRECHT (the Netherlands) in March this year for the Iraqis who live outside Iraq and are residents in the BENELUX and France.  She said that 41% of these votes were invalid and were not counted because the two necessary identification documents had not been presented by the voters.


Mrs. de LANGE mentioned that a report with EU Parliament recommendations had been handed to the Iraqi Ambassador in Brussels. She stated that she is ready to provide further help to those in charge of the polling stations in Europe next time Iraq holds elections.


Mr. STEVENSON then gave the floor to H.E. Mr. Mohammad Ayman Jameel SOUSSAN, Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic in Belgium.


Ambassador Mohammad Ayman Jameel SOUSSAN delivered his speech in the French language. He began by speaking of the tragedy caused by the invasion of Iraq which he qualified as “un hold up armé” (an armed hold-up) for erroneous and false reasons. That this invasion has had catastrophic consequences for all Iraqis and that many Iraqis are now refugees.


He stated that according to official statistics there are between 1.200.000 and 1.300.000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, and that 80% of them live in Damascus. He said that Syria considers these refugees as ‘guests’ and they are living side by side with their Syrian hosts. The Iraqi refugees benefit from the same sanitary and educational systems as the Syrians in order to guarantee their dignity.  Iraqi refugee students are accepted in schools and universities in Syria.


The Ambassador spoke about the negative consequences of the US’ “divide and rule policy” in Iraq, where the US had sought to divide the Iraqi people.  He stressed that it is essential that all Iraqis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Muslims, Christians are given the opportunity to participate in all the important decision making processes in Iraq.


Concerning the effects of the Iraqi refugees on the Syrian economy, Ambassador Mohammad Ayman Jameel SOUSSAN mentioned the increase of 150% in housing rents, the increase of electricity and water consumption and the big increase of the number unemployed people.

He said that Syria has limited revenues (it has no oil) and that the government subsidised food rations represent a heavy charge in the state’s budget, however,  Syria has done its very best to provide the same advantages to the Iraqi refugees.


The Ambassador thanked the European Community for the help it provides and asked the EU to do more to help the Iraqi refugees.


One of the Representatives of the European Commission took the floor and said that the European Union had given a total of 995 million Euros aid to Iraq.

The European Union has provided 170 million Euros humanitarian aid to Iraq, 2/3 of which has been allocated for the refugees with 24 million Euros to Syria.


Mrs. Esther de LANGE MEP intervened to say that the number of refugees is higher than 1.2 million because not all the refugees are registered.

According to the High Commission for Refugees there are more than 800.000 Palestinians and more than 400 deportees from the Golan.


Mrs. A. THEIN MEP took the floor, she mentioned that being married to an Arab she is aware that there have been some social tensions at times between some Syrians who are unhappy with the situation due to the large number of refugees.



Mr. Andres PERELLO RODRIGUEZ MEP, took the floor and asked the Ambassador of Syria if he thinks that the refugees will return to Iraq and what is their attitude with regards to returning one day.


The Ambassador replied that Syria does not force the refugees to return or to stay, but that at present Iraqis do not want to return to Iraq because of the lack of security.


At this point Mr. Struan STEVENSON MEP intervened to say that it is high time that the beleaguered people of Iraq have stability.


At the question about the relations between Syria and Iraq, Ambassador Mohammad Ayman Jameel SOUSSAN said that the relations between Syria and Iraq were not good during the time of Saddam Hussein, however now it is in the interest of Syria that the political process succeeds in Iraq and in order to achieve this one cannot exclude any one, it is essential that all Iraqis: Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Muslims, Christians are included and take part in the political process.


The Ambassador said that Syria had done its best to maintain security on its side of the 625 km long border between Syria and Iraq, but that it was the responsibility of the Occupier to do the same on the other side of the border.  He said that before the occupation Iraqis lived well together, that it is the occupier who has divided the Iraqi people in order to rule the country.

He added that the Iraqi people have been suffering for over 20 years and that Syria hopes that the Iraqi authorities will be able to guarantee the security of their people.


ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan AYDINLI congratulated H.E. Mr. Mohammad Ayman Jameel SOUSSAN for his speech and thanked him for his recommendations regarding the need for the participation of all the components of the Iraqi people: the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens in the political process in Iraq.


Notes taken by Merry Fitzgerald


* Please see the report with subject: “Delegation for Relations with Iraq Meeting at the EU Parliament to discuss the Fate of Iraqi Refugees” sent to you by email on 28th April 2010  – At that time Chairman Struan Stevenson had asked the Secretariat to start the preparation of the programme for the planned mission to Iraq in November 2010, starting with ‘Kurdistan’ and if possible Baghdad. The approach would be to visit at least a part of Iraq if it would still not be possible to visit Baghdad for security reasons.