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As you know today we had an important set of Conclusions adopted in the beginning. Among them was the launch of the naval operation against the traffickers in the Mediterranean Sea. I already had the opportunity to brief you, I might maybe add the list of countries contributing to the operation as I understand it was not communicated to you, so we will add this information that is: Italy, the UK, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden. So if you see the composition, the long list and the variety of regions of Europe represented you will understand it is really a European Union operation regardless of South, North, East or West. This means that we are united in this as well as we have been united in one of the other Council Conclusions we have adopted this morning such as was the rollover of the sanctions on Russia related to the situation in the East of Ukraine.
We had other important topics today in the Council. First of all we had the first ever discussion on energy diplomacy together with Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič. We know and we see very well that more and more energy and foreign policy are closely linked. So we had the first discussion with the Foreign Ministers on how to better support European Union diplomacy action with foreign policy instruments, in order to support our energy interests and the energy Union. We will come back to this issue quite regularly with the Foreign Affairs Council.
We have had then a discussion on some elements of our relations with Asia. We have discussed in particular our relations with China in view of the next EU-China summit next week, as well as the relations between the European Union and ASEAN and our projects that can be developed together with some Asian partners on connectivity.
We had an important meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. After he visited Brussels last month for meetings with the development ministers and with the College of Commissioners, he had – for the first time I understand of his mandate – the opportunity to meet all the 28 Foreign Ministers in this format
We exchanged with him in particular in this crucial year for the UN system: the post-2015 agenda, the climate change conference in Paris and the first conference that is going to be key, the one in Addis Ababa on financing for development. But we also obviously discussed together the EU-UN partnership on the major crises that are open around us and on which our cooperation is key, starting from the work we do together on Libya, in Syria and we had the chance to get the latest update from his side on the talks he and the UN team have led on Yemen recently. Obviously we also discussed migration and our decision of today of launching the operation and the work that we are doing together with the United Nations in this respect, in particular in tackling the root-causes of migration flows and the humanitarian consequences of the immense flow of asylum seekers and refugees we are facing in the region - and beyond Europe.
We then had two additional points on our agenda. One, we discussed the Middle East Peace Process, the EU role in re-launching the Middle East Peace Process after my visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah one month ago and the visit that some Ministers paid in the region. We will probably come back to that next month with full discussions and conclusions on that.
And then we just finished now the point of discussion on the political crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where the Foreign Ministers endorsed the Council conclusions that will be adopted tomorrow in the General Affairs Council, encouraging all the parties in Skopje to implement the political agreement that was reached on the second of June, in particular in working on implementation of reforms, early elections and the transition that can bring back faith and trust in the institutions by all the people in the country.
I stop here, apologies if this time it will be a little bit short. But as you know, we will have a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, together with my colleagues from the UK, Germany and France to tackle the last issues open before we hopefully finalise the nuclear deal with Iran by the end of the month.
For more information:
Fact Sheet - European Union Naval Force – Mediterranean:
Link to the Video: