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Delegates from more than 80 countries will attend the conference on Iraq in Brussels
Delegates from more than 80 countries and international organizations will attend the conference on Iraq in Brussels in the second half of June. What can be done to prevent the conference from becoming a political show rather than an effective function? The official goals of the conference, initiated by the United States and the European Union, are to help the transitional Iraqi administration, consolidate international efforts to assist the political process and economic reconstruction of Iraq, and improve security. But this is saying a great deal and nothing. All conferences are alike, with speeches and subsequent debates. It is clear that the international community wants to hear the opinion of the Iraqi authorities about the situation in the country and to make recommendations to them, if necessary. But the trouble is that the 84 delegations expected in Brussels will hardly have time to voice their opinions about all Iraq's problems. How can the opinions of the majority of participants be taken into account? This is a matter of organization and goals. Accordingly, the spotlight was put on preparatory work in expert groups, which will determine the course of the conference and monitor the balance of opinions. Some of this work has been done, and experts are now assessing preparations for the session. According to sources in the Russian government, it is not clear what results those attending will work for at the conference, which is two weeks away. Although the common goal is to ensure security and political and economic stability in Iraq, the attitudes and nuances differ. For example, the Americans spotlight security, whereas the Europeans focus on the supremacy of law. There is one more difference in approaches: Washington views the problem through the rose-tinted glasses of Iraq's advance to democracy, while Moscow calls on everyone to speak frankly about negative elements of the political process in Iraq. "Otherwise the conference in Brussels may become just another propaganda show," the sources said. As a member of the conference's initiative group, Russia would like its final document to incorporate "clear and distinct guidelines for the Iraqi government," the sources said. These guidelines include a broad national dialogue and the attainment of consensus between different groups in Iraq, which is nothing new. The Brussels conference is a good chance for the international community to discuss all the related problems frankly. Moscow admits that so far the political process in Iraq is proceeding according to the schedule stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 1546. "The schedule has not been seriously upset so far, and the Iraqi authorities are fulfilling their tasks," the sources said. "But we are approaching a very difficult stage: the drafting of the constitution and the transfer of power to a permanent government, when the consolidation of Iraqi society will be a crucial factor." The international community should be prepared to issue recommendations to the Iraqi authorities if the political process fails and to act as the intermediary and organizer of dialogue between different forces in Iraq
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