France and Iraq

Presentation

Political relations

The pace of bilateral contacts, which had slowed down under the al-Maliki Government, has increased tremendously since the summer of 2014, while the unity and integrity of Iraq have appeared at serious risk. France provided political, diplomatic, military and humanitarian support to the new Iraqi authorities in implementing a policy of national reconciliation and in the fight against Daesh. The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, visited Baghdad and Erbil on 12 September 2014 to express his support for the new authorities and to prepare for the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq held in Paris on 15 September. This conference provided strong support for the Iraqi authorities from 29 participating countries and organizations and mobilized the international community in the fight against Daesh. France has also taken action to meet the sizeable needs in stabilizing the liberated areas from Daesh in Iraq (it contributed some €3 million to the UNDP Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization, the FFIS). Twenty-three countries and organizations attended a ministerial meeting held on 20 October 2016 and co-chaired with Iraq to stabilize Mosul. The President’s first visit of 2017 was to Iraq on 2 January, in order to reiterate France’s support to the al-Abadi Government and its national reconciliation policy. Moreover, the President received Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, on 21 February at the Élysée Palace.

Visits

Iraqi visits to France:

  • 21 September 2017: Mr Nizar Khairallah, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 21 February 2017: Mr Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • 20 October 2016: Mr Ibrahim al-Jafaari, Minister of Foreign Affairs (co-chair of the ministerial meeting for the stabilization of Mosul).
  • 8 September 2016: Mr Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • 8 September 2015: Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Minister for Foreign Affairs (International Conference on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East).
  • 2 June 2015: Mr Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister (ministerial meeting of the core group of the international coalition on the fight against Daesh; received by the President of the French Republic and the President of the National Assembly)
  • 1-2 April 2015: Mr Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Minister of Oil (as part of the 15th French-Iraqi Joint Economic Commission; received on 2 April by the President of the French Republic)
  • 8-12 February 2015: Mr Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • 4-8 February 2015: Mr Abdul-Hussein Abtan, Minister of Sports and Youth
  • 2-6 February 2015: Mr Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi, Minister for Transport
  • 3 December 2014: Mr Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister, Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Khaled al-Obaidi, Minister of Defence, Mr Jassim Mohammed Al-Jaff, Minister for Immigration and Refugees
  • 17-21 November 2014: Mr Qutaiba al-Jubouri, Minister of Environment
  • 15 September 2014: Mr Fuad Masum, President of the Republic of Iraq and Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 23 May 2014: Mr Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • 11 July 2013: Mr Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 12-14 July 2012: Mr Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 12-14 December 2011: Mr Barham Saleh, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • 18-21 September 2011: Mr al-Karbouli, Minister for Industry
  • 16-17 June 2010: Mr Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • 16-19 November 2009: Mr Jalal Talabani, President of the Republic of Iraq (State visit)
  • 20-22 October 2009: Mr Ayad al-Samarrai, Speaker of Parliament
  • 4 May 2009: Mr Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister
  • 15 April 2009: Mr Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Vice President of Iraq
  • 2-3 November 2006: Mr Jalal Talabani, President of the Republic of Iraq

French visits to Iraq:

  • 26 August 2017: joint visit by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Ms Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces
  • 2 January 2017: Mr François Hollande, President of the Republic
  • 18-22 July 2016: Mr André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie
  • 11-12 April 2016: Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence
  • 12 September 2014: Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic, Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence
  • 10 August 2014: Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
  • 9-10 October 2013: Ms Nicole Bricq, Minister for Foreign Trade
  • 8 March 2012: Mr Thierry Mariani, Minister of State for Transport
  • 30 October and 1 November 2011: Mr Pierre Lellouche, Minister of State for Foreign Trade
  • 1-2 November 2010: Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, Minister of State for Foreign Trade
  • 25 February 2010: Mr Christian Estrosi, Minister of State for Industry
  • 2-3 November 2009: Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, Minister of State for Foreign Trade
  • 2 July 2009: Mr François Fillon, Prime Minister
  • 17 February 2009: Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, Minister of State for Foreign Trade
  • 10 February 2009: Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic
  • 31 May and 1 June 2008: Mr Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs
  • 19-21 August 2007: Mr Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

For more information, consult the website of the French Embassy in Baghdad

Economic relations

A significant partner for Iraq in the 1970s and 1980s, France saw a drop in its trade with Iraq as a result of economic sanctions in the 1990s. After the military intervention of 2003, French exports fell to €143 million in 2004. France cancelled about €4.8 billion in Iraqi debts between 2005 and 2008, within the framework of the Paris Club. This cancellation of 80 % of Iraqi liabilities in our regard was the largest among the Western countries. France confirmed in 2017 that it granted a loan of €430 million to Iraq’s budget, with the State’s guarantee.

There was thus significant readjustment with the resumption of our bilateral relationship. However, economic exchanges with Iraq are declining, especially our imports, which have been affected by plummeting crude oil prices. Trade between France and Iraq accounted for €476 million in 2016 versus €1.26 billion in 2015, or a drop of 61% over one year. If our exports (mechanical equipment, electrical equipment, pharmaceutical products and motor vehicles) decreased by 25.8% from €427 million in 2015 to €317 million in 2016, our imports, 99% of which were crude oil, dropped by 80.3% from €807 million to €159 million over the same period.

In 2016, Iraq was thus France’s 7th leading partner in the Middle East, our 7th leading client and our 7th leading supplier behind Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. However, French market share remains low, accounting for approximately 1% of Iraq’s foreign trade. French companies are present in a wide range of sectors: hydrocarbons (Total, Perenco), electricity (Schneider Electric, Alstom), transport (Airbus, ADPi, Alstom, CMA-CGM, Renault Trucks, Thales), environment (Degrémont, Veolia), construction (Lafarge is the largest French investor in Iraq) and health (Sanofi). Today France would like to actively participate in Iraq’s reconstruction.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our cooperation activities are governed by a partnership agreement for cultural, scientific and technical cooperation and for development which was signed during President Talabani’s State visit in November 2009 and ratified by France on 4 February 2015.

Support for the rule of law

France welcomed Iraqi officials (police, magistrates and prison personnel) to its specialized schools and provided training in Iraq, under the European EUJUST LEX-Iraq mission, which ended in 2013. It also conducts bilateral training and support action for Kurdistan Region magistrates in efforts to fight the impunity of crimes committed by Daesh.

There has been parliamentary cooperation with Iraq for several years. In June 2015, a delegation of officials from the Council of Representatives of the Republic of Iraq went on a study visit to Paris. A delegation from the Iraqi Majlis Al-Shura also carried out a study visit to France’s Council of State in October 2015. The visit was mentioned in the memorandum of understanding signed in 2010 between the two institutions.

Scientific and technical cooperation

Since 2011, the French Institute for the Near East (IFPO) has had an office in Erbil and is taking action in different areas, including archaeology, social sciences and humanities and ancient history. Since November 2012 the IFPO has been located in the “Maison Chalabi” building, which is inside the citadel of Erbil and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since June 2014.

We cooperate closely in the areas of archaeology and culture. France was one of the first countries to respond to Daesh’s systematic destruction of Iraq’s ancient heritage and has launched several projects to that end.

Cultural and linguistic cooperation

Following a fresh outbreak of violence in Iraq, most cultural activities in Baghdad were temporarily suspended, but were resumed in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan) on 1 January 2016.

After obtaining their baccalaureate, students wishing to continue learning French can attend the Institut Français in Iraq (Baghdad and the branch in Erbil) or one of the four French faculties in the universities of Baghdad, Mustansiriya, Erbil and Mosul (the latter was closed while the city was occupied by Daesh). In addition, there are two French schools in Iraqi Kurdistan, in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

For more information, visit the website of the Institut Français in Erbil

Updated: September 2017

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