PRESS STATEMENT: Slow steady steps towards dialogue on Kirkuk
Yesterday (21 November 2009) political parties convened in Baghdad, Iraq, to accelerate implementation of the Helsinki Principles and Mechanisms for reconciliation and dialogue.
On the third and final day of intense discussions at “The Helsinki Agreement & Future of Kirkuk” conference, hosted by the speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the parties discussed a dialogue process for the intensification of discussions on political and humanitarian concerns relating to Kirkuk.
The landmark event included over sixty senior representatives from the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the Kurdistan Regional Parliament and Kirkuk Provincial Council, facilitating serious discussion on the future of Kirkuk involving Arab, Kurd, Turkoman, Christian and other interests.
The ICOR Speaker, His Excellency Ayad al Sammarai, praised the parties for their courage and leadership.
International experts from Northern Ireland and South Africa were in attendance, supporting the conference delegates by offering insights from their experiences in resolving their own conflicts.
The next discussions will continue to be advised by international experts, and will work intensively to develop its priorities and methodologies over the next six months.
“Time is of the essence”, explained conflict expert Professor Padraig O’Malley of UMass Boston, “as all parties strive for reconciliation and process. They have made a remarkable commitment at this event to underline the principle of dialogue above the drivers for conflict. This must now be underpinned by action for change, action for reconciliation and action for progress. The people of Kirkuk can be proud that their political representatives have made every effort on their behalf.”
- The Helsinki Agreement was negotiated by Iraqi politicians over two sessions in Finland in 2007 / 08 and launched in Baghdad in July 2008. http://www.cmi.fi/files/Helsinki_agreement_English.pdf
- International experts included: Lord John Alderdice a member of the British House of Lords and Chair of the International Monitoring Commission that supervises the demilitarization of the paramilitary organizations in the Northern Ireland conflict; Alex Maskey MLA and senior Sinn Fein negotiator, the first Republican Lord Mayor of Belfast and member of the Northern Ireland policing board and Roelf Meyer, negotiator of the end of apartheid in South Africa for President de Klerk.