Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell said that Iraq’s natural resources have the potential to help tackle the world’s energy challenge when he spoke at the Iraq Petroleum Conference.
|Speaker:||Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell|
|Event:||Iraq Petroleum Conference|
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am delighted to be back at the Iraq petroleum conference addressing such a distinguished audience, and I would like to thank Dr. Alirio Parra and CWC Group for the opportunity to be here today.
Rising energy prices and the Arab Spring have raised important questions across the Middle East and presented challenges for the world. Today I would like to share with you some thoughts about Iraq’s potential to help meet these challenges through leadership in the Middle East, and how it can be a game-changer in energy markets. I foresee this and similar conferences playing a part in developing this potential and in catalysing investment and decisions about investment in Iraq.
The geopolitical challenge
At the end of May I visited a number of Gulf States, where oil prices and energy security were high on the agenda. In a region which contains the planet’s largest oil reserves, the Arab Spring in a variety of forms has become interlinked with energy issues.
Few could deny the legitimacy of a people seeking freedom – seeking a voice to steer their future. But few could have predicted the pace of change we have seen brought by the so-called Arab Spring. At a time of fast-moving events, it must also be a time for wise reflection on how best to meet the aspirations of the Arab people. There are no simple answers. Those who offer simple answers are misleading us,as there are many ways for nations to achieve and maintain legitimacy, through their own pattern of participation and consent.
But governments that use violence to try and extinguish the legitimate aspirations of their peoples are destined to fail. The lasting answer to the challenges and instabilities of the Arab Spring is through reform, not repression. We have no doubt about that at all.