After the start of the new government of Iraq in Baghdad intensify contacts with all external partners. Was no exception and Russia. Last week had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa Kazemi, during which they discussed areas of cooperation to stabilize the world market of hydrocarbons, as well as the situation in Syria and the region as a whole. Mr. Kazemi also invited the Russian President to visit Baghdad. Under what conditions can be a visit, what are the prospects for Russian-Iraqi cooperation on these and other questions of the correspondent of “Kommersant” Marianne white said the Russian Ambassador to Iraq Maksim Maksimov.— Recently, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa Kazemi, invited the President of Russia Vladimir Putin to visit Baghdad. Whether such a visit and under what conditions? Until now, the Russian head of state and head of government of the Russian Federation has never visited Iraq.— Indeed, the Iraqi Prime Minister invited the President of Russia in Baghdad. To date, any specific dates of the visit were discussed. Especially in light of the constraints that operate in both countries in connection with the spread of coronavirus infection, all foreign travel, both Russian and Iraqi leaders has been postponed. However, given that the last time the summit was held in may of 2015, when the capital of Russia visited the former Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi, the two sides are interested to hold in the near term, the negotiations in this format on topical issues of bilateral relations and regional agenda.In addition, such contacts require careful preparation. So in any case the Russian-Iraqi summit should be preceded by visits by line ministries and agencies, which shall be agreed by the agenda of a future meeting.— What are the plans of exchange of delegations between the two countries at the end of the pandemic coronavirus?— Pandemic COVID-19 seriously upset with the Iraqi side agreed plans for bilateral events. First of all we would like to spend in Moscow before the end of the year, the ninth meeting of the Russian-Iraqi Commission on trade, economic and scientific-technical cooperation (IPC), which was originally scheduled for the end of April. In this regard, look forward to the early appointment of a new Minister for foreign Affairs of Iraq, as it traditionally is headed by the Iraqi part of the intergovernmental Commission. I hope that capital of Russia will be one of the first cities that he will visit — and not only to take part in the IPC meeting, but will hold talks with Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov. The head of Russiasky’s foreign Minister visited Iraq in October 2019. The visit was timed to the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. In addition to Baghdad, he first visited the administrative center of the Kurdish Autonomous region of Arbil and held talks with the leadership of the region. In addition, the expected resumption of political consultations on regional issues at the level of supervising Vice-Ministers of two countries — special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Leonidovich Bogdanov and Abdelkarim HaShem. We also anticipate recovery of the entire set of contacts in the economic sphere, the spheres of military technical cooperation, culture and education. As an illustration — over the past year took place about 60 visits, an average of every month in Russia and Iraq were five delegations. A pretty good indicator of the state of our relationship. I hope that in the future will be able to restore the high dynamics of delegatory exchange.— In last week’s conversation, Vladimir Putin and Mustafa Kazemi agreed on further coordination of steps to ensure long-term normalization of the situation in Syria. How, specifically, Moscow and Baghdad cooperate on the Syrian track? Does even the Baghdad information center, created by the military of Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran in 2015?— Our interaction with Iraqi partners on Syria based on the closeness of approach to this question. We share the view of Baghdad that Iraq’s security is inextricably linked with the security of Syria. Support Iraqi efforts to restore the membership of the Syrian Arab Republic in the Arab League.
Make one with the Iraqi positions on the inevitability of a political settlement in this country and the importance of complete elimination of the remnants of the terrorist groups ISIS (“Islamic state”.— “B”), “Hayat Tahrir al-sham” (banned in Russia) and their affiliated entities operating in Syrian territory and in Iraq. Based on this, we are in active dialogue with Iraqi partners through the foreign Ministry and the Russian security Council. For five years, effective you mentioned the Baghdad information center. The military of four countries in real time share intelligence and coordinate actions in order to effectively detect and eliminate the remnants of ISIS. I can assure you that the work of the centre is evaluated positively by the Iraqi political leadership and military command. In addition, you must also know that since August 2019, Iraq received observer status at the Astana format, where Russia, Iran and Turkey act as guarantors. Sure��astie Iraqis in the activities of this forum will give an additional impetus to its work.— Are there any plans to expand military-technical cooperation or Baghdad is still focused on Washington, especially after the us supply of Patriot systems in Iraq?— As you know, in Soviet times the military technical cooperation is one of the main areas of cooperation between Moscow and Baghdad. So in Iraq are familiar with Russian weapons and has repeatedly convinced of its quality and reliability on the battlefield, including during counter-terrorism operations against ISIL in the period from 2014 to 2017. More than half of the techniques that show the local military parades, manufactured either in the USSR or in Russia. Of course, we are ready to further cooperation with Iraq in this area in order to strengthen the ability of the Iraqi army to resist external threats. In this respect contacts with the Iraqi partners on the issues of equipping the armed forces of Iraq with modern weapons of the Russian production does not stop. Moreover, from July 2018 in Baghdad on a permanent basis and a representative of JSC Rosoboronexport.— The US accuses Iran of meddling in the internal Affairs of other countries in the region, including Iraq. How does Russia assess the role of Iran in Iraq?— You need to understand that Iran is a neighbor of Iraq. Two States are firmly linked historically, geographically and economically. Their peoples share a common cultural and religious traditions. This causes and the role played by Iran in Iraq. Suffice it to say that Iran is one of the main trading partners of Iraq is in the top five. In 2019, the trade turnover between the two countries exceeded $12 billion. moreover, Iran provides large-scale supplies to Iraq, gas and electricity. Both republics are actively cooperating in the security sphere. Tehran is known to have provided substantial support Baghdad against ISIS. Thus, Iran’s influence in Iraq is objective and is primarily due to the commonality of interests that exist between the two countries. As for sounding out Washington’s accusations against Tehran of meddling in the internal Affairs of regional States, they are politically motivated and linked to the US waged a campaign of political, economic and propaganda pressure on this country.— If Moscow’s concerns that the withdrawal of international coalition forces from Iraq could worsen the situation in the sphere of security in the country and will lead to the activation of the cells of the “Islamic state”?— In my opinion, the Iraqi power structure was strong enough and got good combat training in the course of participation in the counter-terrorism operation against ISIS in 2014-2017 years. The Iraqi army, police, anti-terrorist service and people’s militia demonstrated good training and high moral-combat qualities and are now independently perform most of the tasks in the field of counter-terrorism and security of the Republic. Almost on a daily basis from different parts of Iraq there are reports of the destruction of the sleeper cells of terrorists.More fear now is not the withdrawal of the international coalition forces, and the fact that terrorists can take advantage of the acute socio-political tensions and a difficult situation because of the spread of coronavirus. Local authorities were forced to use significant resources of the security forces to ensure order during the period of protests that have swept the country since October last year to February of the current and also for monitoring compliance with a curfew under conditions of epidemic COVID-19.— As recently noted in interview to Agency “Interfax” Deputy foreign Minister of Russia Oleg Syromolotov, Moscow and Washington advocate for the return of Iraq and Syria on its citizens from terrorists in order for them to be tried at home. Were there such precedents between Russia and Iraq?— Indeed, this is the official position of Moscow on the issue of the so-called foreign terrorist fighters. As for immigrants from Russia, according to information available to us, in the prisons of Iraq contains three former militants. While they are serving various sentences for involvement in terrorist activities. Russian competent authorities aware of this situation and keep it under control.— Do a search of Russian children in Iraq?— At the moment, all children from the families of militants who came from Russia were returned Home. We are talking a total of 122 juvenile citizens of our country. However, we continue regular contact on this issue with the local authorities and representative offices of international organizations.— How do you assess the current state of trade-economic cooperation between Russia and Iraq?— Despite the relatively modest figures of bilateral trade in 2019 is $264,5 million, Iraq occupies an important place in the system of trade and economic relations of Russia with foreign countries. Available in this region the potential is used far not completely. Today, the most successfully developing cooperation in the oil and gas sector, which has accumulated vast years of experience, both Russian and Iraqi oil.When all the negative factors — the dramatic drop in oil prices, the rapid spread of coronavirus, a difficult military-political situation and continuing problems with security ��� Russian oil and gas companies continue to participate in the implementation of projects for the extraction of oil and gas in the South of Iraq and in the Northern regions, including Kurdistan.Our operators work closely with local partners to meet their contractual obligations and build plans for the development of relations with an eye on the long term.I would especially like to highlight the PJSC LUKOIL is implementing the project “Western Kurna-2” and “Block 10”; PJSC “Gazprom Neft” is the “Badra”, “Block “Garmian” a” and “Block “the Jackal””; PJSC “Rosneft”, participating in the development of blocks 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13, as well as JSC “Bashneft”, operating in the framework of the project “Block 12”. A number of our operators, such as JSC “Zarubezhneft”, JSC “Stroytransgaz”, JSC “Tatneft”, JSC “mhnc “Soyuzneftegaz”” and LLC “ERIELL NEFTEGAZSERVIS” take energetic steps to revive their activities or entering the Iraqi oil market. Speak louder than words about the degree of cooperation in this field is the fact that the total Russian investments exceed $13 billion Along with it is actively working on diversification of the Russian-Iraqi economic ties. She is currently focused on the opening of the Iraqi market for domestic companies specializing in the construction of power plants, exploration, exports of wheat and other agricultural products.A leading role in this process is established in 1994, the Russian-Iraqi Commission on trade, economic and scientific-technical cooperation.She, by the way, the Russian side is headed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov. This demonstrates the importance attached by the Russian leadership to the development of relations with Iraq.I hope that at the end of the existing quarantine measures in Russia and Iraq will take place before the end of the year the next, ninth session of the Commission in Moscow.— A power company in southern Iraq in the Wake of the crisis caused by the coronavirus and the fall in oil prices, dismissed the Iraqi workers, which led to the protests. What about Russian companies?— Unfortunately, the pandemic coronavirus has made major adjustments in the activities of the operators on the territory of the Republic, including Russian. Local authorities in the current environment, trying to minimize its impact on ordinary citizens. In turn, Russian companies proactively provide them any support.In particular, PJSC LUKOIL is working to preserve jobs. Despite the crisis, none of the Iraqi employee who is employed on objects of the company, not fired. In addition, all necessary measures are taken to preserve health and prevent environments�� Iraqi workers the spread of the coronavirus in these fields. Up to the present time among employees and contractors of Russian companies, there was not a single case of the disease.Of particular relevance are now becoming the efforts of our oilmen aimed at socio-economic support to the local population. Previously, it was routine practice today, it is literally vital. Thus, in March—April of PJSC LUKOIL purchased and transferred to medical centers of settlements Huwara, Izzedine Salim, Medani and kourna is located close to the West Qurna-2, equipment, supplies, lab instruments, reagents, disinfectants and personal protection. PJSC “Gazprom Neft” in the current difficult situation is also providing assistance to the most vulnerable segments of the Iraqi population living in the vicinity of the Badra oil field. Recently to the representatives of local communities was transferred to a large number of agricultural kits. This practice will continue in the future.— How will the current oil crisis on the implementation of the investment plans of our companies in Iraq? Do you discuss with Russian companies the issue of reducing oil production?— Let me remind you that the commitments of the countries participating in the transaction format OPEC+ significant mean for each reduction in oil production. Iraq is no exception — it’s 1.06 million barrels per day, almost the fourth part of the recovered oil.Given this fact, oil companies will be forced to reconsider the terms of the development of productive capacities at the existing facilities and commissioning new ones. Currently, in close cooperation with Iraqi partners conducted regular negotiations aimed at overcoming the current impasse. It is possible to save economy of individual projects would require adjustment of conditions of contracts and development plans for the fields. This will allow companies to reduce the planned volume of investments, jobs, and programs focused on socio-economic support to the local population.— What other areas in the energy sector of Iraq the Russian company is considered as a promising?— One of the major challenges facing the current leadership of Iraq is forcing the work on the development of the national gas fields, primarily for the needs of objects of power generation using as fuel natural gas. It should be noted that Iraq has vast proven natural gas reserves. According to experts, the GECF, the country occupies the 13th place in the world with a total volume of bole�� 3 trillion cubic meters In this field see great potential for the development of investment cooperation.I would like to remind that the Deposit Mansur, located near the Iranian border in Diyala province, is one of the largest in the country. In the past the Iraqi government has already attempted to start developing it in 2010, an agreement was signed with a consortium consisting of the Turkish, Kuwaiti and South Korean companies. However, in 2014 the work on the project had been suspended because of the deteriorating security situation that was the cause of the cancellation agreement the government of the Republic in 2018.Currently, the Iraqi side views of PJSC “Gazprom oil” as one of the possible operators for the restart of the project taking into account the rich experience and capabilities of the company. High interest and readiness to intensify consultations on this track repeatedly confirmed Iraqi partners in the negotiations at various levels. As arguments in favor of interaction with JSC “Gazprom Neft” are declared accompanies lower costs on the development of Mansuria and commissioned by our operator in 2017, a major gas plant gathering and processing of associated petroleum gas at the Badra field, built with the latest technical solutions and modern world standards. According to available information, one of the options performance could be the construction of a pipeline from the field Mansur.It is also worth noting that against the background of increasing geopolitical tensions in the region in order to diversify routes of export of crude oil the government of Iraq in 2019, announced plans to build two strategic pipelines along the routes Kirkuk (Iraq)—Ceyhan (Turkey) and hadithah (Iraq)—Aqaba (Jordan). Despite the changes taking place today in the world oil market, these objects will be very popular as for Iraq, the exporting country and its major partners—importers of its oil. As seen, the involvement of our operators in these projects would be a good opportunity to demonstrate our competence, experience and technical capabilities.— At the time, the cooperation between Russia and Iraq in the energy sphere was one of the main. What is the current state of our cooperation and further perspectives?— Today with the increasing needs of Iraq one of the key challenges facing the country’s leadership, rehabilitation and further development of power generation facilities, elements of the energy infrastructure and increasing the efficiency of use of the system of its distribution between consumers��Yami.Soviet and Russian engineers have built in Iraq a large amount of heat and hydropower and power grid, here formed a considerable reserve. Unfortunately, due to a number of serious reasons, including in no small measure due to the deterioration of the situation in the sphere of security, the implementation of pending projects with Russian participation, in particular thermal power plant “al-HART”, TPP “yusifiya”, TPP “Debis” and HPP “al-Adam”, estimated by the Iraqi side as a strategically important, has been suspended.Today’s major players in the electricity market of Iraq is General Electric and Siemens, also has a number of operators from Japan and South Korea. With accumulated experience of domestic operators would be able to re-occupy a solid niche in the electricity sector of Iraq. Here it is possible to note such companies as OOO “IK Technopromexport”, JSC “Power machines”, LLC “inter RAO Engineering” and JSC “RusHydro”. Iraqi partners recognize the high technological level of services and equipment offered by Russian econometrically, as well as the attractiveness of the price offer in conditions of high competition in the local market. First of all, it could go on the resumption of work on the above energy facilities.Modern Iraq is highly in demand modern system of transmission, distribution and management of the electricity sector. There is a huge potential for application of the developments of the domestic leader in this area of JSC “rosseti”. In this regard, in 2019 we studied the organization of the visit of a group of Russian engineers to study the possibilities of participation in projects for the construction of several high voltage transmission lines and substations systems. I hope that the negotiations will be resumed after stabilization of the epidemiological situation in the country and the world.— What do you see as the prospects for expansion of economic cooperation in non-energy spheres?— Here I would like to highlight the area of exploration and subsoil use. Iraq has significant reserves of sulfur, rock phosphate, rock salt and many other minerals. We must admit that the pace of exploration of the non-oil fields in Iraq are significantly behind those in the oil and gas sector.In this regard, it is worth noting the efforts of the Russian state holding JSC “Rosgeologiya” to resume full-scale cooperation with the local partners in implementation of projects in the field of geological study of the territory of Iraq, the reproduction of the base of solid minerals, hydrocarbons and water resources. The operator has in the past long experience in Iraq, through its subsidiaries, JSC “Szarubezhgeologija”.As one of the promising directions of our cooperation considering the pharmaceutical industry. Iraq is interested in purchasing a wide range of drugs, in particular used for the treatment of cancer. In this connection, pay attention to the work of the Russian company “Biocad”, whose ultimate goal is obtaining registration in Iraq your drugs. In the future we can talk not only about entering the export of drugs from Russia, but also the creation of its own production on the territory of Iraq.Also expect that after the improvement of the epidemiological situation and restoration of regular flights between our countries up to the end of the year will hold a business mission in Iraq with the participation of Russian companies producing pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.— Do Russia and Iraq points of contact in the field of agriculture?— The Iraqi leadership is now carrying out a forced policy on the recovery of its agriculture and increase national self-sufficiency in basic food commodities. In accordance with recently published estimates by FAO experts in 2019 Iraq have significantly improved the situation of food security, and significantly reduced the dependence on imports of some agricultural products, primarily grains, vegetables, fruits, edible eggs and poultry meat. Here Iraqi partners are interested in modern Russian technology in the field of irrigation and reproduction of water resources, restoration of agricultural lands and improve their fertility and also the creation of capacities for the production of fertilizers.Special focus of the Iraqi leadership faces the challenge to increase production in the country, of grain, especially wheat. I must admit that over the past two years Iraq demonstrates in this field some success: implemented a government program to support local farmers, increase the size of the acreage, recovering material and technical base.According to official projections, while ensuring favourable conditions the grain harvest in Iraq this year could reach a volume of 5 million tons.However, Iraq is still interested in the procurement of wheat abroad. On this track the relevant agencies — the Ministry of agriculture and the Ministry of trade of Iraq — relevant work is carried out to restore tolerance of our wheat to the Iraqi market.In addition, the Iraqi authorities focus on increasing the volume of domestic processing of such food products as grain, crude edible oil, raw sugar. In this regard, the relevant Russian companyand could participate in the implementation of projects in this field, in particular the construction of large mills, grain elevators and other grain facilities infrastructure and oil industry.