Photo: The Group of International Experts participated at the Sixth Baghdad International Dialogue Conference 


On February 24 and 25, 2024, MEPEI’s President Flavius CABA-MARIA participated in the Sixth Baghdad International Dialogue “Exploring Connectivity – Iraq as a Regional Hub”, organized at the University of Baghdad, Iraq, by the Iraqi Institute for Dialogue and CARPO (the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient). The conference was held under the auspices of the Iraqi prime minister, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani.

The two-day talks gathered 40 experts, think-tankers, civil society, local political personalities, academia, and diplomats, from the Middle Eastern and North African regions, Europe, China or Russia and Central Asian countries, with the purpose of exchanging views on the matters related to connectivity and regional integration, climate-related matters, human and energy security or Great Powers’ perspective on MENA integration, while mostly, focusing on Iraq’s impact and the potential to catalyze regional cooperation.

During the first day of the conference, the international participants had the opportunity to discuss with the Iraqi president, various representatives of the Iraqi government, the Prime Minister himself and other members of the cabinet, members of the Iraqi parliament and additional Iraqi officials, in a three-session discussion regarding the Iraqi security landscape and regional security dynamics, Iraq’s path to development, both domestically and internationally, and the digital future and cybersecurity challenges of the country. At the end of the day, a special dialogue with H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, the President of the Republic of Iraq, took place at the presidential palace during a special reception held for international participants.

However, the second day of the conference was organized in a different format, as a Chatham House rule-based discussion, for four roundtable sessions, which allowed the local and international audience to participate in an exchange of ideas on environmental issues, development cooperation, regional connectivity opportunities for West and Central Asia, human security, conflict resolution and reconciliation, and the view of main international actors on Middle Eastern regional integration.

During his opening address at the beginning of the conference, Iraqi President Rashid emphasized that a significant aspect of the work of research centers and civil institutions that deal with dialogue and understanding is their role in enhancing government efforts to promote the values necessary for coexistence. This activity also provides a supportive environment in which ideas and perceptions are presented to decision-makers, and it helps engender a spirit of mutual understanding and coexistence, highlighting that Iraq remains an active participant in the development of regional understanding and coexistence, as well as fostering a culture that promotes dialogue and respects diversity. He added that Iraq is one of the most effective regional actors for facilitating constructive cooperation between countries, and for promoting dialogue and mutual understanding, having the example of mediated talks between regional entities, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

Furthermore, the Iraqi President underscored that the region appears to be in the greatest need of strengthening the principles of positive and productive dialogue at the present time. “As a region, we have realized, or should have realized, that the only way to achieve a safe, stable, and developed future in the region is through establishing peace and promoting a sense of mutual understanding among countries,” said President Rashid. “Having witnessed the suffering of the Palestinian people and the crimes committed against them, the international community has come to realize this more than ever before”. He added: “Taking effective and concrete steps that would end this suffering and stop the heinous crimes being committed against the Palestinians is the responsibility of the international community.”

Therefore, although the discussions during the entire conference were meant to bring forward several topics related to the Middle East’s regional integration, other aspects were also emphasized during the event, given the ongoing crises in Gaza or Yemen. Still, the event was an excellent opportunity to develop a constructive dialogue with local and international experts with regards to their perspective on regional issues.


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