HIS EXCELLENCY HUSSAIN SINJARI, THE AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC IRAQ IN ROMANIA:
“Romania and Iraq should coordinate their activities in the fields of intelligence and defence”
Reporter: How did the relation between Romania and your country evolve over the past year?
HE Hussain Sinjari: When I arrived last summer, I learned that the Iraqi-Romanian Chamber of Commerce, while it exists on paper, but unfortunately has no activities of any kind. So we started with individual Romanian businessmen and women to encourage them to go to Iraq, to explore for themselves business opportunities. At this stage, we are in the process of either to give life to the Iraqi-Romanian Chamber of Commerce or to establish a new body for the promotion of the economic relations between our two countries.
Since I have arrived, seven months ago, we have issued 1015 visas to Romanian nationals.This shows that our main aim is the promotion of economic relations.
Although that last year was a difficult one in Iraq, because of the war against the Islamic State terrorism, which is draining our economic and financial resources and also because of the sharp decrease in the price of oil. There is also our anti-corruption fight. Islamic State terrorism and corruption are our twin enemies. The war is not easy, but we must win against these two evils.
Reporter: What trade value has been reached between the two countries?
HE Hussain Sinjari: Though Iraq and Romania have long and historic relations, unfortunately the trade balance between the two countries is, at the present, humble indeed, about 14 million dollars only.
I think, after we establish our new Iraqi-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and the exchange of official visits of some members of the Iraqi and Romanian Governments and Parliaments, which both will hopefully take place this year, we will achieve a new level of trade relations. Romania can succeed in competitions either in military equipments or military and police training. We should also coordinate in fields of intelligence and defense.
Reporter: What types of goods is Romania importing from your country and what is exported to this country?
HE Hussain Sinjari: In addition to wood, we are encouraging Romanian pharmaceutical products to be found in Iraqi pharmacies. A number of Iraqi business people have visited Romania, encouraged by the Embassy, in order to make contacts with pharmaceutical companies here.
There are also Romanian companies working in Basra, either in oil and gas industry or water and sewage sectors, or in Iraqi sea harbours. But now you can also find Romanian workers, technicians and engineers in other different parts of Iraq, including the Region of the Iraqi Kurdistan.
Unfortunately, Romanian meat and livestock are not allowed to enter Iraq, because of the ban imposed by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), which I find unfair and injust and that Romanian authorities should seriously review to lift this ban.
The main products of Iraq are oil and gas and its most serious problem is the electricity cuts. I think Romanian companies and Romanian business people can contribute extensively in these two sectors, in addition to agriculture. We have serious needs for the infrastructure and Romania can help greatly.
We need business people from both sides coming up with new ideas and initiatives with strong projects and explore business opportunities.
There are two other important categories: Education and Tourism. Thousands of Iraqis have graduated from Romanian universities, some of them are ministers, parliamentarians or leading businessmen and women and professionals. We want them to continue and more. Romania could become a happy destination for Iraqis to visit as tourists, including medical tourism, as the war against Dai'sh causes injuries and the need for medical treatment.
Reporter: How do you see the future of the relations between our countries?
HE Hussain Sinjari: Romania and Iraq have both emerged from the ashes of dictatorships. While Romania has been rather successful in democracy-building and now fighting against corruption, Iraq still is fledgling behind. I think, we should learn why Romania succeeded in building democratic institutions in a peaceful way, while we, in Iraq, are still finding too many serious obstacles in this course.
Maybe, one of the negative and hindering reasons is, above all, that we, in Iraq, did not separate religion from state. This separation of mosque and state is extremely important in democracy-building and the development of democratic institutions and the dissemination of democratic culture, tolerance, peace and the acceptance of each other.
Here I suggest that Romanian thinkers, scholars and representatives of Romanian civil society alongside with politicians, parliamentarians and business people, organize a conference or a series of workshops in Iraq, maybe in coordination with an Iraqi local NGO, such as the one I have founded long time ago, "Tolerancy International" (www.tolerancy.org ).
If we can find the necessary funds for organizing such a conference, I think it should have positive results, but I also think that Romania must show the world its experience in fighting corruption and building a healthy democracy. Romania is much respected in the world, at present, for this. This is Romania's best strength, and it could contribute to enrich my part of the world, by demonstrating its experience and sharing lessons-learnt. This is the most needed human-to-human solidarity and caring. This should be highly appreciated by around-the-world communities, which are suffering from divisions, corruption and lack of national reconciliation.
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