Press conference announcement (28.5.2008)
A press conference on Monday 28 April 2008 at 0900 hrs (Helsinki time) at the VIP President Press Room at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
Helsinki II (Seminar on Divided Societies) concluded late Sunday evening and the organisers, John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston, the Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University, Massachusetts and Crisis Management Initiative are hosting a press conference on Monday at 0900 hrs (Helsinki time) at the VIP President Press Room at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
Senior representatives of the Iraqi delegation will be issuing a joint statement and will take questions.
For further enquiries about the press conference, please contact Mr Quintin Oliver +358503740004 / +44 7785278927.
PRESS STATEMENT BELOW:
Senior Iraqi figures from a wide range of parties and blocs across all regions met in Helsinki this weekend to discuss principles of future engagement. In a landmark step supported by a joint statement, they proposed that their work in progress be advanced in Baghdad, with invitations to their South African and Northern Irish facilitators to assist.
From Thursday (April 24th, 2008) 36 Iraqis, senior figures in their respective political parties and tribal communities, met for three days near Helsinki, to broaden the Helsinki I Principles and identify mechanisms to implement them.
After three days of intense discussion the conferees adopted a set of principles for joint national action in addition to a set of implementation mechanisms with the aim of advancing national reconciliation in Iraq.
Most importantly, they agreed that dialog and negotiation was the primary means of resolving political disputes and that all political parties and factions would have to abide by the principles they had adopted in order to participate in negotiations.
The Iraqi participants agreed to meet again within the next three months in Baghdad to finalize their work in progress and refine the principles and mechanisms that would enable them to reach a national agreement. They also invited the Northern Irish and South African facilitators to Baghdad to assist them.
Among the Iraqi delegates were Minister Al-Hakim, Minister of Dialog and National Reconciliation; Sheikh Hamoudi, Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) of the Iraqi National Assembly; Dr. Fouad Maasoom, a senior member of the CRC and leading member of the Kurdistan Patriotic Union (PUK); Dr. Ali Adeeb, parliamentary leader of the Dawa Party; and Dr. Osama Al-Tikriti from the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP).
At the conference’s conclusion, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi affirmed: “I am satisfied with the progress we have achieved in the difficult circumstances of our on-going conflict and trust that we can achieve more in the coming months. We thank the people of Finland.”
Professor Padraig O’Malley, director of the project explained, “A peace process is a matter of many starts but each start is a step forward. We [the conveners] are delighted that it is the Iraqis themselves who have taken ownership of this process by inviting us to Baghdad for the next meeting. Ownership of the processes of engagement by the Iraqis is the key to settling the issues that still stand in the way of political reconciliation in Iraq. Helsinki II is about to become ‘Iraq I.’”
The delegates paid tribute to what they described as the success of a historic meeting and commended the role and efforts of the organizers and the facilitators and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They look forward, they said, to seeing the results of this meeting as laying the foundations of civic peace in Iraq.
The Iraqi delegates were joined by six facilitators from Northern Ireland, led by Martin McGuinness, who had agreed to settlement in Northern Ireland in March 1998, and five from South Africa, led by Cyril Ramaphosa, who had agreed to settlement in South Africa, bringing an end to apartheid in November, 1993.
The Helsinki I Principles were agreed in Helsinki in early September 2007. They laid out a basis of a framework within which future negotiations on matters relating to Iraq would be conducted. (http://www.cmi.fi/files/Helsinki_agreement_English.pdf , http://www.cmi.fi/files/Helsinki_agreement_Arabic.pdf )
The John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, University Massachusetts Boston and the Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University and the Crisis Management Initiative jointly convened the meeting with the support of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
For enquiries contact Head of the Secretariat Quintin Oliver on +44 7785 278927.