Permanent Secretary Ilkka Salmi and Finland's Roving Ambassador to Iraq Päivi Laine visited Iraq from 17 to 19 February.
They had meetings with senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Displacement and Migration, and Ministry of Justice of Iraq, as informed on a press release the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior.
The topics of the meetings were the relations between Finland and Iraq, the security situation in Iraq, fight against terrorism, and migration from Iraq to Finland.
As regards migration, it was emphasised that a large number of Iraqi people are residing in Finland with no legal right to stay in the country. The parties were in agreement that priority should be given to voluntary return.
Finland encourages voluntary return by granting increased assistance to returnees. According to the Government's release, "the Iraqi party said that they were prepared to receive convicted persons back to Iraq". With the entry into force of the Iraq-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the EU's role in migration questions has grown.
Following the strengthening bilateral relations between the countries, Finland has decided to reopen its embassy in Baghdad. Finland supports the stabilisation of Iraq and opportunities for Finnish companies' participation in the reconstruction work are being investigated. Success in the fight against ISIL has significantly improved the security situation in Iraq and in Baghdad, in particular, which helps in conducting these activities.