Brussels, 17 July 2006
The European Commission has appointed the Head of its newly-established European Commission Delegation in Iraq. This decision paves the way for a reinforcement of the Commission’s presence in the country and will contribute to the deepening of EU-Iraq relations. Ilkka Uusitalo is an experienced Finnish member of the Commission staff, who has most recently served as Head of Delegation in Pakistan. He and his team will work to support Iraq in its transition to political stability and economic prosperity.
Commissioner External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner said “This appointment marks a major milestone in the development of EU relations with Iraq. It is a powerful signal of our commitment to support the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people in their efforts to build the stable country they deserve. One of Mr Uusitalo’s most urgent first tasks will be to participate in the preparations for the Iraq Compact which will be discussed in the coming days in Baghdad. I am confident that with the experience he brings from previous posts, he will do an excellent job in building important new ties with Iraq”.
In recent years, Ilkka Uusitalo has headed the European Commission Delegations to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives. He previously held various posts at the Red Cross both at their headquarters and on the ground in Iran, amongst other countries. He is a former career diplomat and has also been involved in trade promotion activities.
Until the appointment of Mr Uusitalo, the Commission has been represented in Iraq by a Chargé d’Affaires, Ana Gallo.
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner added: “I wish to take this opportunity to thank Ana Gallo for her courage, commitment and devotion to the strengthening of relations with Iraq. Working under difficult circumstances, she has made a major contribution to EU-Iraq relations”.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the European Commission has contributed €720 million towards the reconstruction of Iraq. The €200 million programme recently announced for 2006 focuses on improving the quality of life of the Iraqi people through the restoration of key social services such as health and education; furthering democracy, providing support to the political transition including the forthcoming constitutional review; and promoting good governance, by strengthening rule of law and building the capacity of key ministries such as energy and trade.
With the new government in place since last May, the Commission hopes to launch negotiations for a Trade and Cooperation Agreement in the near future.
The Iraqi government has proposed that a Compact be developed to build a new
partnership between Iraq and the international community. The Commission
supports this initiative, which should aim to promote political, economic and
social development in the country. Iraq's international partners will meet to
discuss with the Iraqis the form of the Compact in Baghdad. The Commission
stands ready to support the Iraqis and the UN in this ambitious initiative.