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Remarks by CPA Administrator L. Paul Bremer, III

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ceremony

As Prepared for Delivery 31 July 2003

Esteemed members of the Governing Council, Ambassador De Mello, Ambassador Mohssen, members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and distinguished foreign representatives, first let me say that I am happy to be on the side of the members of the recently born Governing Council attending this event, to celebrate the progress achieved in the physical and institutional restoration of one of Iraq’s key institutions.

I am visiting all the ministries, but as you may know, this visit has a particular significance for me. I spent most of my adult life as a diplomat, so coming to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives me special pleasure. My familiarity with diplomacy, I have a keen appreciation of the special circumstance in which you find yourselves as you represent your country and your people in an especially difficult time. I have always expected that you, like most Iraqis are more than willing and more than capable of meeting the exceptional challenges you face. I congratulate you for your efforts and for the spirit of cooperation you have brought to your dealings with Coalition Provisional Authority representative Ambassador Radu Onofrei. That you restored this institution, practically from ashes, tells me that those of us who expect exceptional performance from the Iraqi people are correct. 

Your ministry is back at work, embarking on consular service here and gradually at your mission in other countries. I know your duties will expand as the Governing Council moves forward. Yesterday the Council told me that they expect to name provisional ministers next week. Steps such as those will continue until the government of Iraq in the hands of a sovereign government responsive to and recognized as legitimate by its people.

What steps remain to create a sovereign government here?

The first step was the creation of the Governing Council.

The second step is the crafting of a constitution recognized as legitimate by the Iraqi people. In furtherance of that end, the Governing Council informed me yesterday that they intend to appoint a preparatory committee next week. My understanding is that the preparatory committee will recommend to the Governing Council the best process to write a permanent constitution for Iraq. As I have stressed, this must be a constitution written by Iraqis for Iraqis. And the process must be considered legitimate by the Iraqi people.

The third step will be the election of a sovereign Iraqi government.

How long will this take?

The process is in Iraqi hands. How long will it take to write a constitution? I do not know, but allowing for the expected, necessary and appropriate disagreements, negotiations and compromises, six to seven months seems reasonable to me. So we might see elections for a sovereign government by mid-year of next year.

My work ends when I can turn over my responsibilities to a sovereign Iraqi government. When that day comes, I am confident that you, the professionals of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs manage the transition, including the protocolary details of the actual ceremony. I look forward to working with you on that task.

Drafted by Don Hamilton

Version of 0908 Thursday 31 July 2003


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