Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Opening remarks at press conference with Prime Minister Nouri Kamel Al-Maliki of Iraq

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Baghdad (Iraq), 13 January 2014

Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Assalamo Alaykom.

Good afternoon.

I am pleased to be back in Baghdad for the fifth time as Secretary-General of the United Nations. When I was here just over a year ago, that was December, 2012, I strongly encouraged the leaders of Iraq and Kuwait to look to the future together and usher in a new era of cooperation. There have been tremendous gains over the past year thanks to the leadership, commitment and flexibility of Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Emir of Kuwait.

I am very encouraged that the bilateral relationship has been improved and is going to further improve.

I just had a very good and constructive dialogue with His Excellency Prime Minister al-Maliki. I am going to have meetings with Vice President, the Foreign Minister, the Speaker of the Council of Representatives and President of the Independent High Electoral Commission. This is quite a busy schedule but at the same time I am very grateful to the people and Government of Iraq for their warm hospitality on this auspicious and very happy day of the birthday of Mohammad. This is quite an important day and I thank you very much and I sincerely congratulate you on this auspicious day.

We reviewed the security and political situation in Iraq, the upcoming parliamentary elections, and the relationship between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the relations between Iraq and Kuwait. We also discussed the situation in Syria which the Prime Minister has just explained.

We agreed that the challenges facing Iraq require all political leaders to fulfil their responsibilities to ensure social cohesion, dialogue and progress over political obstacles. The people of Iraq are looking to their leaders for tangible benefits and a better future. The upcoming parliamentary elections are an opportunity to deliver on these legitimate expectations.

I am especially worried about deteriorating security in parts of Iraq. I strongly condemn the terrible attacks which have targeted civilians. And I am deeply saddened by the senseless deaths of innocent Iraqi women, children and men. The suffering of their families should spur us all to action.

In this difficult time, it is important for all political leaders to unite in their stance against terrorism and come together to stabilize the situation.

I also encourage measures to strengthen the country’s social fabric – through political participation, democratic processes and institutions, respect for the rule of law and human rights, and inclusive development.

Iraq’s leaders have always a grave responsibility to protect the security and welfare of the Iraqi people. They must find common ground and advance for the future of this great country. I count on all leaders to show courage, wisdom, persistence and vision.

I welcome the reinvigorated dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil. I understand there is a serious opportunity to reach agreement on several constitutional issues, including revenue sharing and security arrangements. I hope leaders will seize this opportunity. There is no alternative to a united, federal and democratic Iraq.

As the Prime Minister has just mentioned, we discussed in depth the situation in Syria and its impact on Iraq, including the humanitarian repercussions. I thank the Iraqi Government and people for their generosity in opening its border to Syrian refugees, and I count on Iraq to maintain this policy. Taking this opportunity I would like to really thank for such generous support for all the refugees coming from Syria. The number has been increasing; more than 220,000 people are being accommodated by your people. I sincerely hope that with the ending of this crisis they will be able to return home as soon as possible.

I continue to call on Member States to provide funding and assistance to countries hosting Syrian refugees. On Wednesday, I will convene the Second High-level Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait.

The United Nations will continue to stand by the Government and people of Iraq. Led by my Special Representative, Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Assistance Mission -- UNAMI -- will remain steadfast in assisting the people and Government of Iraq build a more peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous future for all.

Thank you. Shukran Jazeelan.