Plasschaert: Iraq is at a crossroads … and you give “very necessary” advice to the region
Plasschaert: Iraq is at a crossroads … and you give “very necessary” advice to the region
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq, Jenin Henin Plasschaert, said: “Iraq stands at a crossroads,” calling for the Kurdistan region to unite within a federal Iraq.
“If you will allow me, I will speak frankly today, and the goal behind my comments is to be challenging and thought provoking at the same time so that we can make attempts – sincerely and constructively,” Blashart said in his speech while hosting a seminar on the sidelines of the conference (unity and constitution) in Erbil. – To address some general problems and concerns.
In other words: Some of you may consider my views to be too explicit and perhaps overly expressive. But as the Kurdish proverb says, “Your friend is the one who makes you cry.” And
let’s face it, in my many conversations in the Kurdistan Region, the opinions expressed are broadly. General very straightforward – whether you like it or not. And at the same time, this is one of the things I really appreciate. We exchange opinions not just to talk but to dive into the heart of things – trying to find solutions.
Control of one’s fate is a permanent struggle in and of itself for any individual. Given the history and geography of this region, I think it is safe to say that this is especially the case for the people of the Kurdistan Region. This is what the past tells us, as well as the present and the future, shrouded in uncertainty.
What we do know is that it took a long time to achieve today’s level of autonomy. Not just time. The price was dear, as many people paid with their lives for it. But like anywhere else in the world, rights and freedoms today are not given at all.
What I am saying is the following: Do not take autonomy for granted today, and for its sustainability, unity is very necessary.
Indeed, as I made clear to the Security Council last week, the federal system only strengthens the bonds between its components – and these ties are strengthened through reconciliation and societal cohesion.
In the case of Iraq, this means that a country is stronger the stronger the ties that unite its diverse peoples. And often these diverse peoples need reconciliation within society as well.
Now, the Kurdistan Region is diverse in nature. It is home to a wide range of peoples, languages and religions. His embrace of this diversity was recently and noticeably embodied during the historic visit of Pope Francis.
One could say that the remarkable strength and resilience of the Kurdistan Region stems from this diversity.
One could even say that “unity in diversity” is the foundational recipe that allowed the Kurdistan Region to exist. And this is definitely the principle that will guarantee his future.
And yes, political diversity also exists in the Kurdistan Region. As in many other countries. While many of these diverse democracies appear strong and stable today, their history has also been marked by bloody wars and suffering.
Needless to say: A strong Kurdistan Region is the best prepared and ready to protect its interests. On the contrary, with division comes weakness.
The strong and united Kurdistan region also strengthens a federal Iraq, not only at the local level but also at the international level. Power outside starts with strength inside.
“As a former European and national politician, I can tell you, from my experience, that democracy, especially democracy with multiple levels of government, is hard work,” the UN envoy said.
And truly sustainable democratic societies are the opposite of the overnight miracles – they require tremendous patience and a steadfast willingness to make concessions.
Impatience is understandable, of course. I know everything about it. It may even be desirable in order to move things in the direction of the greater public good, but inevitably it is imperative that the democratic process be given time to take hold.
While this is happening, the healthy interaction between the opposition and the government and the formation of parties and coalitions must be allowed to operate at the local, regional, and national levels.
And during all of this, the political leadership’s ultimate concern should be: serving its own citizens. The focus should be on solutions that represent the interests of all people living in the Kurdistan Region. Solutions that only address the majority are untenable in the long run.
Now, as I said: even with achieving unity, loneliness can never be taken for granted lest it be lost. Rather, it must be constantly nurtured.
This ‘perpetuation work’ includes ongoing grassroots outreach, dialogue, and concrete actions that make it clear that communities and constituencies are being heard at all times.
When unity is threatened with division, it is the responsibility of the leadership to direct and lead awareness, to unify the conflicting interests.
At the same time, it is the responsibility of every citizen to acknowledge and accept the fact that balancing different opinions and interests requires a permanent compromise, as is the case in any diverse society.
Politics is also described as the “art of the possible.” Like it or not, making concessions is the way to settle disputes. I do not deny that the settlement could suddenly be savored as disappointment. But the bitter concession pill will ultimately open the door to lasting success.
Since politics is ultimately local, it is imperative to exercise the spirit of unity and partnership first and foremost at this level. A balanced system is one in which services are fully guaranteed in all areas and at all times – regardless of the political configuration that may be in power.
After all that I have said, it is very important to distinguish between unity and monotheism.
Just because a group can unite as one, does not mean that a vibrant and sound internal discussion cannot take place, or that a large number of different voices cannot be heard. On the contrary. Diversity of opinions is a source of power and enrichment, not a threat.
And the thing that is of equal importance is: actions speak louder than words. Fluffy advertisements and speeches have their place, but at the end of the day it is all about getting things done.
From fighting corruption and distancing themselves from narrow partisan interests, to moving seriously towards unifying the Peshmerga and reforms. Yes, the Peshmerga Vision 2025 is one of the best examples. It fuels the imagination. The Kurdistan region should not remain divided between “green” and “yellow”. Or any color designations for that matter.
The time has come for real reconciliation and political stability to prevail.
Turning to national sovereignty, it is painfully clear that geography is not always in the interest of Iraq, and certainly the Kurdistan region is no exception. In other words, you are facing unique geopolitical circumstances. This fact alone should be sufficient reason to make a person think twice.
“In order for the elections to take place on October 10, Iraq is at a crossroads. Conducting a credible electoral process with free and broad participation would help guide the country towards a safer and more prosperous future. Of course, the results of these elections are the same for her,” she added. Of great importance to the vital relations between Baghdad and Erbil.
At the same time, the Kurdistan region has a choice. It can unite and further enhance its respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, make meaningful progress in the long-awaited field of security and economic reform, and engage in dialogue despite internal disputes that sometimes seem Intractable (I admit it).
Or … or perhaps he will fail to arrange his house and risk losing his achievements.
Recently – a debate has re -emerged regarding the possibility of a regional constitution. Now, most people will not question the added value of such a constitution. .
If I am not mistaken, a preliminary draft was presented in 2009. It was followed by a few attempts but it was stalled at various stages due to a lack of political accommodation.
Now, let me be clear: all that the political leadership means is the people. So is the constitution. It is about people, their rights, and how to protect their rights. It indicates the limits of the powers of the authorities. A constitution is a social contract.
Indeed, it is certain that reactivating this process will provide an important opportunity for all components and sects in the Kurdistan region to cooperate.
This would help bridge differences and grievances, accept the other – when appropriate – and apologize for them and respect each other’s unique histories. It can help overcome political rivalry and partisanship as well as gridlock among ruling elites.
It can provide a wonderful opportunity to create a forward-looking sense of pride.
It is also an opportunity to clearly define institutional powers and responsibilities. Legal ambiguity is just as harmful at the federal level as it is harmful in the Kurdistan region.
So: If you want to do that, reactivate the process, get it right. Political will is a prerequisite. Empty or broken promises will only further fracture the public’s confidence. And do not underestimate the ease with which anger can grow.
Political infighting and disunity are two toxic scourges – however, they are present at every turn. Is it surprising that people do not believe that the political process serves them, or that it can bring about change?
And again, if you want to do it, do it right. Needless to say, the final document should be in conformity with the Federal Constitution of Iraq.
This represents another challenge, as the Federal Constitution lacks clear guidelines. At the time the Federal Constitution was written, general principles were enshrined in the text while leaving their implementation to subsequent supporting legislation to determine this.
Sixteen years later, however, this lack of specificity continues to shape the debate between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Finding durable solutions is an urgent matter. I am sure that we can all agree that the time has come for Iraq to become more than a group of components.
Plasschaert concluded his speech by saying, “In conclusion, allow me to emphasize once again the importance of what has been accomplished by the people of the Kurdistan region in past centuries, and the question now is: How can these achievements be sustained and consolidated ?! And while the United Nations stands by you, it is important to realize that it is – First and foremost – you are all concerned in this matter, unity in diversity. The key is in your hands. ”