High price to pay if Iraqdemocracy fails: Fischer
22 June 2005, BRUSSELS - Speaking at a conference on Iraq being co-hosted in Brussels by the U.S. and the European Union, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned there would be a "high price to pay" if the democratisation process in Iraq fails.
22 June 2005
BRUSSELS - Speaking at a conference on Iraq being co-hosted in Brussels by the U.S. and the European Union, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned there would be a "high price to pay" if the democratisation process in Iraq fails.
The conference is focusing on international support for the Iraqi transitional government on political reform, economic reconstruction and strengthening security through the rule of law. No new aid pledges or troop contributions are expected.
Over 70 countries and international organisations have sent representatives to the meeting. The foreign ministers of Syria and Iran are also attending.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa told the conference Syria was ready to strengthen anti-terror controls on its borders with Iraq but said United States sanctions meant it could not acquire such equipment.
"Syria announces its readiness to fully cooperate with the Iraqi government to enhance the security of its long border in a practical and tangible way."
But Damascus lacked the equipment needed to ensure around the clock frontier supervision, he said.
Referring to the U.S., Al-Sharaa said: "The party that does not enable Syria to succeed in a better way to secure its border with Iraq is the same party that throws the strongest criticism at Syria and prevents Syria from attaining the equipment necessary to protect its long borders around the clock."
British defence officials earlier this week warned that Syria's security at its border with Iraq was basic and relied on guards who lacked night-vision equipment needed to stop militants crossing to fight U.S. forces in Iraq.
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iraq's neighbours to stop meddling in the country's affairs. Syria in particular, must secure its borders "against those that seek to destroy Iraq's progress," Rice said.
The E.U. is also urging Iraq's neighbours to help end the insurgency in Iraq and has insisted that Sunni groups must be included in the drafting of the constitution.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari urged neighbouring nations to "exert their ability to prevent infiltration of terrorism into Iraq, conduct stricter border controls, denounce public agitation and deal constructively with our government."
Promises of "policy change" must be followed by real action, Zebari said.
"We still suffer terrorists using Syria to transit into Iraq. These networks can be stopped if the political will exists," Zebari insisted.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called for international help in Baghdad's struggle against terrorists and insurgents, saying there could be no economic development without security in the country.
Multinational forces in Iraq as well as national troops were doing a great deal to control the insurgency al-Jafaari said, but he warned: "Terrorism does not respect borders. We need to work together to put an end to terrorism."
"We want our sovereignty to be respected and we also want to respect the sovereignty of our neighbours," he underlined, saying that condemnation of attacks was not enough.
Spotlighting Iraq's obligations, the U.S. Secretary of State said Baghdad's transitional authorities must maximize the financial benefits of assistance, improve security and liberalise the national economy.
In a reference to the participation of Iraq's Sunni minority in the constitutional drafting process under way in Baghdad, Rice insisted that the government must "open political space for all members of the Iraqi society that reject violence."
Whether countries were for or against the U.S.- led Iraq war, the focus now was on stabilising the country, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told reporters. "If the democratisation process fails, there will be a high price to pay...we cannot allow that to happen," Fischer underlined.
The meeting emphasised that "the international community, having been deeply divided over Iraq, has now come together actively," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
The Iraqi parliament's 55-member constitutional committee began work on a draft charter on 19 June, with a finished text due in August. This will form the basis for general elections establishing a permanent government in December.
The conference also symbolises transatlantic reconciliation over Iraq following months of acrimony over the U.S.-led war, which was opposed by France, Germany, Belgium and other E.U. states.
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