11/22/2004, 00.00
IRAQ
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Nuncio and Patriarch: " 'Yes' to the U.N., but the future is in the hands of the Iraqi people"

Hopes are on conference in Egypt: groups that want to undermine the democratic process and government efforts are strong, but the role of citizens' is vital.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) -  In Egypt, the international community is currently discussing Iraq's future, the international community's own role, elections and debt relief and is thus offering vital assistance, yet peace and security still seem a long way off in Iraq.  But it is above all the people of Iraq who must take their future into their own hands.  This is what Archbishop Fernando Filoni, Apostolic Nunzio in Iraq, and Monsignor Emmanuel Delly, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, have told AsiaNews.  Though concerned for the current situation, they are even more so about possible future scenarios, considering that today "any predictions about tomorrow" are impossible "because Iraq lives day by day".

According to Msgr Filoni, "the main problem is not support for the Allawi government, which has already been confirmed by the international community; this government represents the present, but the great unknown remains the future, or rather future possibilities."  Democratic elections set for January 30 will be a decisive milestone, but the Nuncio's uncertainty on the vote is betrayed by an emblematic expression he uses: "Inshallah, if elections take place, the country will take a decisive step forward".  There can be no certainties until the very end, even if "the political will for elections exists".  Msgr Filoni stresses that the situation in Iraq must be addressed "day by day, because there are hundreds of parties and the nuances and positions of all of them are not known".

Every day, western media reports on carnage and attacks, but life goes on in the country: "Violence is only one aspect of Iraq today: there are millions of people who are trying to live in peace.  In the provinces, for example, life is simpler, while in Baghdad and Mosul, things are more complicated".  Greatest concern goes to large urban centres, since at the moment "there is no guarantee of security: we are still at the mercy terrorists.  The situation is also critical for volunteers of non-governmental organizations.

The Nuncio does not hide the contrast that exists between the Allawi government (supported by the international community) and parts of the Iraqi people: "It is Iraqis themselves who must push forward the country's democratic process and today, the overall picture is certainly not positive".

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch also supports Premier Allawi's efforts and stresses that he will do whatever possible to ensure that government directives are carried out.  Msgr Emmanuel Delly reiterates that the Chaldean Church "has always been obedient to the government and trusts its efforts".  According to the Chaldean Patriarch "the whole population wants peace and is tired of violence and conflict.  Everyone must act for the good and the security of Iraq, even those who do not support the government's work", adding that "current authorities are working for the good of Iraq, therefore these efforts must be supported".

The country has the support of the international community, but it is essential that Iraqis themselves promote the current government's work:  "We must work all together to bring Iraq to new life and government efforts are to be supported for the good of everyone".(DS)

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