France and Iraq
The pace of bilateral contacts, which had slowed down, has increased tremendously since the summer of 2014, while the unity and integrity of Iraq have appeared at serious risk. France supports political, diplomatic, military and humanitarian aid 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, in all its forms.
In the summer of 2014, given the extent of the humanitarian and security crisis, France took action. At the request of France, an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting was held on 7 August. On 10 August, Laurent Fabius travelled to Iraq, where he supervised the first French humanitarian aid delivery to Erbil, which in 2014 amounted to 100 tonnes. He succeeded in organizing an extraordinary session of the Foreign Affairs Council on 15 August and the establishment of a “European solidarity bridge” towards the north of Iraq. France has established an ad hoc asylum and reception system for Iraqis whose lives are under threat: to date, around 2,000 men, women and children have been received in France. On 18 September 2014, at the express request of the Iraqi authorities, the President of the French Republic decided to involve the French air force in the strikes in Iraq with the aim of supporting Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the ground.
Iraqi visits to France
- 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 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, Foreign Minister, Mr Khaled al-Obaidi, Defence Minister, 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, Foreign Minister
- 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
- 12 September 2014: Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic, Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr J-Y 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 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: 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: Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs
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, our exports fell to €143 million in 2004. France cancelled about €4.8 billion of Iraqi debts between 2005 and 2008, within the framework of the Paris Club. This cancellation of 80 % of the Iraqi bonds owed to France was the largest among the Western countries.
There was thus significant readjustment with the resumption of our bilateral relationship. Trade between France and Iraq amounted to €1.17 billion in 2014. French exports to Iraq amounted to nearly €420 million (machinery, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals). The French market share, however, is still low, accounting for less than 2 % of Iraq’s external 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).
French imports are mainly made up of oil products.
Our cooperation activities are controlled 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.
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 takes place in the context of 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 acting 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, located inside the citadel of Erbil, which since June 2014 has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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
Most cultural activities had to be temporarily suspended since the escalation of violence on Iraqi territory.
After completing their baccalaureate, students wishing to continue learning French can attend one of the four French faculties in the universities of Baghdad, Mustansiriya, Erbil and Mosul. In addition, there are two French schools in Iraqi Kurdistan, in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
Updated: 2 February 2016
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- Embassy of France in Iraq
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