CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Today, we will start with an issue that is very important for all of us, which is the Middle East Peace Process between Israel and Palestine. This is also related to the stability, security and peace in the Middle East. We should not forget crises when they are out of your own attention and keep our work going also on the files that are open since decades, as in this case.
I can share with you today already that we have made some progress - the European Union has revitalised the work of the Quartet in these months. Just in these hours UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent invitation letters to the Foreign Ministers of the Quartet to convene a meeting of the Quartet principles in New York, in a few weeks from now, at the margins of the General Assembly of the United Nations. And also on the initiative of the European Union, he has extended similar invitations to join to the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and to the Secretary General of the Arab League. We hope that this re-start of the process can lead to improvements on the ground and also to re-open prospective and political horizons to the talks.
Staying in the Middle East, we will also have on the agenda something positive, because crises sometimes find a happy end. It is not there yet, but we are getting there. We will discuss the follow-up of the Iranian deal and also its regional implications. This is very much related also to the migration crisis, because we know very well that the roots of many of the refugees and the refugee crises that we are facing today in Europe - and not only in Europe also in the Middle East itself - are rooted in the crises and conflicts we have in Syria and in the Middle East at large. So we will start discussing that; obviously this issue, especially the Syrian crisis, will come back to the Foreign Ministers in a formal setting in one of the next Foreign Affairs Council, but we will start discussing the follow up of the Iranian deal with the Ministers.
Migration and refugee crisis for sure will be the heart of our work in these two days as it was the case also with the Defence Ministers yesterday, when we discussed the transition to Phase two of our operation in the Mediterranean against the traffickers and the smugglers. With the Foreign Ministers I expect we will focus mainly on our work with third countries: countries of origin and transit. I will visit myself Niger very soon, within the month before the UN General Assembly. We will complement in this way the work of the Defence Ministers and the work that the Interior Ministers will have to do, because large part of our policy on our response to the refugee crisis has to have a coherent approach also in our internal policies as the European Union. Obviously this is something I am dealing with as Vice-President of the Commission, but I don't expect Foreign Ministers to focus too much on that, even if they are politicians and part of governments, so that is a discussion that might come up. That is for tomorrow morning so you will hear more on that tomorrow probably at the press conference.
Last but not least, let me say this: I have been repeating for months that while we were focusing on our Eastern Neighbourhood when we had the most heated times of the Ukrainian crisis, I was repeating time and again that we should not forget what was happening in Libya, Syria and the Middle East. Today I can say: we should not forget what is happening in the East and in our Eastern Neighbourhood. That is why we will have a free and forward-looking discussion on our relations with Russia, our relations and our support to our friends in the East, starting obviously from Ukraine, but also to Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
So it is going to be a full agenda, very busy one, very substantial one, as you see and I expect, as it is the case always when we have discussions with Foreign Ministers and even more when we have informal discussions, very open, very productive and very substantial one.
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