In Berlin, Frank‑Walter Steinmeier opened the first meeting of the Stabilisation Working Group of the Counter-ISIL Coalition on 18 March 2015. Representatives of around 30 countries attended the meeting at the Federal Foreign Office. Germany co‑chairs the group together with the United Arab Emirates.
During recent weeks, the global alliance against ISIL was able to gain some ground in the fight against the terrorist group. However, alongside military action, civilian efforts also play a role in the work of the international partners. They, among other things, are the focus of the Stabilisation Working Group which held its first meeting in Berlin on Wednesday (18 March). Prior to the meeting, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said: “The fact that the myth of ISIL invincibility has been disproven in Kobani and northern Iraq during the last few months is vitally important. Notwithstanding that, although the use of military force is necessary, military means alone will not be enough to overcome the ISIL phenomenon on a durable basis.”
Win back trust of the Iraqi people
The Working Group therefore aims to quickly initiate effective reconstruction measures in the areas that have already been freed from ISIL. In order to ensure lasting stability, it is vital that the trust and support of people living in the areas regained from ISIL be won back, Steinmeier said. This meant restoring public safety, as well as the water supply, hospitals and schools as quickly as possible, he continued, and above all, everything must be done to ensure that old rifts among religious communities did not re‑emerge.
At the opening of the meeting, Steinmeier welcomed the fact that the Iraqi Government had made progress in restoring the unity of the country in recent months and that it had reached out to the Sunni segments of the population. According to the Minister, however, much work remains to be done. “We are here today because we want to support the Government of Iraq in restoring national unity, peace and stability”, he said.
On the one hand, the international community should gain a better understanding of the needs to provide humanitarian relief and basic services to the people in Iraq, he continued. On the other hand, it must be ensured that the Iraqi partners on the ground receive a strong and well-coordinated response to their requests.
Focus on stabilising Iraq
In its meeting, the Working Group focused mainly on the action urgently needed in Iraq. However, preparing and planning for Syria’s stabilisation would also continue, the German Foreign Minister said, which was why he had met with the President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, Khaled Khoja, the day before. It was clear, however, that the prime responsibility for improving the situation in Syria lay with the regime that must stop the massive violence against the people of Syria, he continued.
Among those attending the meeting at the Federal Foreign Office was General John Allen, US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. Lise Grande, United Nations Deputy Special Representative for Iraq, and Turki Said, representative of the Iraqi Government for stabilisation, also travelled to Berlin for the meeting.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement on 18 March ahead of the first meeting of the working group for Stabilisation of the Counter ISIL Coalition at the Federal Foreign Office: …
--check against delivery-- Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a pleasure to welcome you today to the first meeting of the working group for Stabilization of the Counter-ISIL-Coalition. I would like…
On 17 March, Foreign Minister Steinmeier received the President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, Khoja, for talks.