The Arab Economic Summit,
19-20 January 2009,
State of Kuwait

Speech of
His Excellency Galal Talbani
President of the Republic of Iraq
In the Opening Session
Of the Arab Economic, Developmental and Social Summit



In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful



Mr. President,,,

Their Majesties,,,

Excellencies and Highnesses,,,

Ladies and Gentlemen,,,


Asalamu Alikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu

Allow me in the beginning, and in the name of the people of Iraq, to express our support and solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza, and to great hem for their heroic stand against the Israeli aggression, and to express our condemnation and denial of the barbarian massacres committed against civilians and innocent citizens, and to reiterate the right of the Palestinian people to establish its independent state, and to request the immediate withdrawal of the invading forces from Gaza strip, the opening of crossing points, removing the economic blockade imposed on them, and to call upon the Arab and friendly countries as well as the international community to participate in the reconstruction program for re-building what war on Gaza destroyed.

 

Allow me to thank my dear brother and generous friend His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and the brotherly country Kuwait for the good preparation of this conference.

 

There is no doubt that holding the Arab summit concerned with economic social and developmental issues under these circumstances, represents an effective response for the challenges of the twenty first century from the economic, social and developmental point of view. All countries of the world are heading toward economic blocks for serving the interests of their people. The Arab area did not lack seeking such blocks. There has been economic forms, and they still exist for a relatively long period. However, for a reason or another, such blocks could not perform the Arab mutual work required to advance an economic and social advancement of the Arab countries and their peoples, and to reflect positive effects of the development witnessed by some Arab countries on the peoples and countries of the area. The reasons differ, but most important of which is the instability and lack of security that prevailed in the Arab area during the last six decades, the wars that affected the area and its peoples, in addition to terrorism which we all suffer and work to eliminate, and the accompanying Arab separation.

 

All these factors weakened the common vision for facing challenges. Therefore, this summit, benefiting from the past Arab experiences, may form the historical opportunity for forming a strong economic Arab block that enhances opportunities for integral development, and that can deal with international economic blocks via the re-evaluation of the objectives and mechanisms of mutual Arab work, and enhancing them to cope with the Arab and international economic developments. Via such Arab economic block, our voice shall be heard and shall be effective internationally.

 

The challenges faced by the Arab people are well known and the explanatory memorandum prepared by Egypt and Kuwait referred to them, and I think no one differ with them. What is more important, however, is our will to confront such challenges. Such confrontation shall be difficult if we do not insist that our political views shall not hinder our confrontation of the challenges ahead of us all. It is then that we can say that this summit shall be a land mark on the entrance of the Arab world into a new era with a mutual Arab vision toward the future.

 

One of the issues that makes this summit a distinguished one, and that promises success is the participation of the private sector and the civil society organization in both its preparation and activities. The efforts of these sectors integrate with the official Arab effort in identifying challenges and setting plans for confronting them. Moreover, the criteria set by the preparatory committee for selection of programs and projects to be discussed in this summit were characterized with realism and desire to upgrade the standard of living of the Arab citizen, achieving prosperity, and responding to the requirements of integral development.

 

All this promises a new era, aspects of which are to be drawn by the peoples of the area, positive effects of which are to be reflected on the method of practicing ruling, and shall enhance the opportunities for building democratic organizations where the people is a basic participant in political decision making. A common vision of an integral economic and social development shall strengthen the opportunities of political harmony, as democracy is a precondition of development.


Dear Mr. President,,,

Allow me to take this opportunity to update you briefly with the latest developments that took place during last year. Security has relatively improved due to the continuity of adopting the plan of law imposing by the Iraqi government. The Iraqi security forces achieved important results that enabled them to be in charge of the security file in thirteen Iraqi governorates, and shall take responsibility of Baghdad security soon. Within the next few months, all the security of Iraq will be in the hands of the Iraqi forces.

 

Last November, we signed an agreement with the USA regarding the withdrawal of their forces from Iraq and ending their temporary existence there. It was a must that we go in this direction to first get rid of the foreign military existence which is not under the Iraqi law competence, and other procedures imposed on Iraq pursuant to the seventh chapter of the UN treaty, which formed a hindrance before Iraq to practice its full role within the Arab area and in relation with the national community. In this agreement we stressed sovereignty and security of Iraq, the security of its neighbors, and that Iraq shall not in any way be used for any sort of aggressive works.

 

Last December, we worked with the Security Council on issuing the decree No. 1859 of 2008 pursuant to which the competence of the multinational forces was ended, and which maintained the international protection of Iraqi monies and oil returns. We worked also on making the Security Council confess that the case in Iraq is totally different now than it was upon the issuance of the decree No. 661 of 1990, and the importance of getting Iraq back to the position prevailing prior to the issuance of that decree.

 

The improvement of the security situation positively reflected on the external relations of Iraq, where a long term agreement of political, economic, commercial, security and cultural cooperation agreement with the brotherly country Egypt is initially agreed upon to be a base for a strategic cooperation. That period also witnessed an Arab, regional and international openness on Iraq, where several countries re-opened the domiciles of their diplomatic missions in Baghdad. Baghdad also received several Arab, neighboring and friendly official visits of major figures. His Majesty King Abdullah Al-thani honored Iraq with his visit. Cooperation and coordination with the mechanism of the expanded meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs helped reaching understandings regarding issues of mutual interest, and procedures leading to reducing the limit of tension. Through the mutual work in the work groups concerned with power, Iraqi migrants and security we managed to reach the best understanding for treatment of problems and setting solutions for them. The Kuwaiti government shall continue in its trend for deepening friendship, cooperation, and good neighborhood in its efforts to enhance its role in the Arabic and regional scope as well as within the international community in a form that fosters opportunities of stability and security in the area. The agreement with our neighbor Turkey was also an important step in this direction.

 

The economic position in Iraq also witnessed a considerable improvement through a group of economic and financial laws issued by the Iraqi government which lead to the increase of the income of the Iraqi citizen and improving his purchase power as well as his welfare. Salaries also increased considerably. The Iraqi government prepared an ambitious budget for 2009 not only for reconstruction, but also for building a sound and strong economy to push advancement forward. The Iraqi government reviews this budget and the concerned economic programs based on the consequences of the financial crises witnessed world wide, and the decrease of oil prices. The private sector also played a vital role in the economic development and reconstruction of Iraq.

 

These gains we achieved are important for our people. We are requested, more than ever before, to maintain and enhance them, and to invest in them. The year 2009 shall be an examination of our abilities and political will to achieve these goals. It will be a decisive year for fostering the political process in confrontation of great challenges that affect our internal positions. The elections of governorates are scheduled at the end of this month, and the municipal elections shall follow with a strong competition among political powers. The importance of these elections lies in that their results reflect on the results of the legislative elections that will take place by the end of the yea and affect the form or political map and the formation of the next Iraqi government with its three presidencies. In next July, there will be poll on the agreement of withdrawal of American forces and managing their temporary existence in Iraq. In addition, the year 2009 will be the year of the great challenge of providing basic services for the Iraqi people.

 

Facing such challenges and our success in setting solutions for them shall foster stability and security in Iraq, and enhance our abilities to build national organizations that are qualified for fulfilling the requirements of a strong state, prevailed by order, where the law is respected and people live in security and stability among themselves and with their neighbors. This shall be a basic factor in the stability and security of the region, and shall normally reflect positively upon the relations of Iraq with Arab countries, regionally and worldwide, and its effective return to the Arab and international family.

 

The past dictator system left us several issues that resulted in political, legal and financial liabilities, which we worked on and are still working to fulfill. we shall continue to work with relevant countries for reaching a compromise that satisfies all parties. We also inherited a lot of debt and claims regarding which we achieved a great advancement for settlement with the international community. We hope Arab countries of the debtors of Iraq, particularly the Gulf ones, to draw upon the members of Paris Club and others to enable Iraq reconstruct what the wars and economic embargo has destroyed, and to actively participate in the Arab project for sustainable development. Here, I would like to thank the brotherly country the United Arab Emirates for waiving all Iraqi debts.

 

Iraq has started to re-gain its power and to stand again, and seeks after many years of isolation imposed by the previous regime to form new partnership with the international community through the international compact with Iraq, which was ratified by more than 90 countries and international organizations in Stockholm document on 29/5/2008.

 

Such partnership shall begin first by Iraq's integration with its Arab and regional scope. This means that Iraq, with its enormous natural and human resources, shall be a basic corner in the mutual Arab vision for integrated development, for which the current summit is a base. We look forward that the studies proposed through the pivots of the summit shall be translated into applicable work programs with a practical return, to enhance economic cooperation for the interests of the Arab people, and fulfilling the requirements of sustainable development, particularly in the fields of food security, poverty combating, health care, infrastructure, power, bi-trade, scientific research, technology development, youth, unemployment, and immigration of Arab minds. We look also forward that the summit shall provide an opportunity for consideration of the consequences of the financial crisis and the slow down of the international economy in addition to the reflections of both on the economies of the Arab countries, and how to minimize their negative effects to the least possible limit.

 

Dear Attendees,,,


Iraq, with its geographical location, its enormous natural and human resource is capable of playing a very decisive role in the integration of the economies of the area, and deployment of its resources for development and advancement. Iraq under the previous regime was a reason of instability and wars, and a reason for wasting its wealth and in the crisis of the area due to the unwise adventures and mismanagement.

 

Iraq today wants to be a pillar of communication and harmony between our peoples. We look forward to fostering ties of economic cooperation and trade exchange with our brothers in the GCC countries. The Iraqi government has taken decisions concerning diversification of outlets for exporting Iraqi oil and gas through a pipe network via neighboring countries.

 

Our government is working on re-constructing the matrix of terrestrial transportation and railway network, in pavement for connecting it with the transportation matrix in the Area.

 

Before I conclude my speech, allow me to express my thanks and gratitude to the general secretariat of the Arab League, and it secretary general Mr. Amro Mossa, and economic and social council of the Arab League for the efforts they exerted to hold this summit and make it a success. I reiterate my deep thanks to His Highness our dear brother sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and to the brotherly State of Kuwait for hosting this summit.

 

Thank you all,

 

 

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