Check against deliver!
I had the opportunity already to debrief you on our point on the Iran nuclear deal [JCPOA], so I take it as done. I will focus on the remaining points we addressed with the ministers.
First of all, a somehow related issue, on nuclear non-proliferation: we decided with the ministers on the adoption of new European Union autonomous measures against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] - measures that complement and reinforce the ones already in place, decided by the UN Security Council. The measures we adopted today take effect immediately, so as of today.
Our new measures include: a total ban on EU investments in the DPRK in all sectors; a total ban on the sale of refined petroleum products and crude oil to the DPRK; lowering the amount of personal remittances transferred to the DPRK from €15000 to €5000; and also a decision not to renew work authorisations for DPRK nationals, obviously in line and in consistency with national laws. We also added three persons and six entities supporting illicit programs to the list of those subject to asset freeze and travel restrictions on top of individuals and entities that are already listed in compliance with the UN Security Council sanctions/resolutions.
We also decided with the ministers to launch a démarche – the European Union and Member States together - towards a certain number of third countries, mainly in Asia and in Africa, to make sure that a robust implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions is done by all UN Member States. This is to be done in full coordination with our partners in the region.
We are keeping regular contacts with the United States, Russia, China, the Republic of Korea - I am meeting the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea [Kang Kyung-wha] later this week on Friday in Brussels - and obviously Japan and others.
This brings the level of economic pressure and diplomatic pressure from the European Union side on the DPRK to a maximum level. DPRK is the country on which the European Union has the toughest autonomous - and not only autonomous – sanctions regime in the world. And I guess the European Union is the body that has the toughest sanctions regime of the world on DPRK. This for us is aimed at opening the political space for negotiations that currently we do not see. We know out of experience that economic and diplomatic pressure can open space for diplomatic negotiations. We do hope that this set of measures will do so in the coming future.
We then had a point with the ministers on our relations with Turkey, more on the foreign policy angle. You have seen for sure developments inside Syria, in particular in the north, with the de-escalation zone around Idlib and Raqqa. We discussed these issues with our partners in Turkey - I had a telephone conversation this morning with [Foreign] Minister [of Turkey, Mevlüt] Çavuşoğlu on this; on the situation in Iraq, including the Kurdish issue. We see Turkey not only as a candidate country – that will be addressed tomorrow at the General Affairs Council – but also as a regional player that is crucial for us on many different aspects, from the regional crises to counterterrorism, and this is an important element to bring in the picture.
I will bring the debate we had with the Foreign Ministers to the European Council that will address the relations with Turkey later this week, on Thursday, to reflect, again, not only the accession negotiation talks, but also the foreign policy and regional angle of our work with Turkey.
We also had with the ministers a long and fruitful discussion on our work on human rights. The European Union is one of the global players that still put human rights at the centre of our foreign policy. We believe this is a matter not only of values and principles, but also of interest. We believe security is strong only when it is sustainable, which means based on the active participation of all citizens. And we exchanged with the ministers the best ways to pursue our human rights agenda, our human rights dialogues - also with difficult countries -, our work on development, humanitarian aid, girls and women, and many other things where the European Union is leading the way and consistently so. So, we will continue – I have seen a full determination by the ministers – to act with unity and consistency in this field.
Maybe I should also mention that we adopted conclusions on Myanmar that you might have seen, and that would be – I think – an important basis for us to work also in view of the ministerial [meeting] we will have with ASEM in Myanmar at the end of November; that will be also an opportunity for us to address the situation there. In the conclusions our call is to have an immediate end to violence, to have the government working to grant full, safe and unconditional humanitarian access without delay, and a sustainable return for all those who left their homes.
We have, as European Union, stepped up our humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and obviously, we stand ready to assist all activities in the Rakhine state.
We also launched today a new civilian mission, a CSDP mission of the European Union, in Iraq. It will focus on assisting the Iraqi authorities in the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Iraqi national security strategy. It will be deployed to Baghdad by the end of the year. As I mention Iraq, there are news in these hours that are obviously of great concern to all of us. This was not an issue for discussion with the ministers today but I will have a telephone call with [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Haider al-] Abadi immediately after finishing this press conference. I will discuss with him also the situation in Kirkuk and the situation following the referendum.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I144986
Q.: Dans le communiqué du Conseil, il est marqué que les Ministres se sont mis d'accord pour augmenter la pression sur les pays tiers par rapport aux sanctions nord-coréennes. De quelle façon peut-on augmenter la pression face aux pays qui ne respectent pas forcément les sanctions nord-coréennes?
Il s'agit premièrement d'avoir une démarche commune européenne en coordination avec les Etats-Membres. C'est une liste – si je ne me trompe pas – de 25 pays tiers envers lesquels nous allons avoir cette démarche coordonnée à partir de la fin de cette semaine. Et déjà, le fait d'avoir l'Union européenne agissant de façon coordonnée avec les Etats-Membres et d'autres partenaires internationaux dans cette démarche représente une pression diplomatique assez importante. Et nous espérons que cela va amener à des résultats, au moins dans certains des pays impliqués.
Q. It is a question partly brought up in AOB section. I understand that Hungary brought up the issue of the Ukrainian education law. I wonder what do you think about this law? Are you worried that this law could might derail the Eastern Partnership Summit? Did you promise Hungary that this will be brought up at a future meeting, for example at the EU-Ukraine Association Council?
You are very well informed but it was not under any other business, it was part of our human rights debate. We had discussed the issue already at our informal meeting in Tallinn in September. I raised the issue with President [of Ukraine, Petro] Poroshenko in New York during our bilateral meeting and we agreed that we will wait for the opinion of the Venice Commission that has been requested on the implementation of the law and we will follow-up with the Ukrainian authorities on this, as European Union.
Q. Do you think it is a good idea to reduce accession funds to Turkey or to redirect them to civil society groups and can we expect to see that at the European Council this week?
I would not elaborate on what we can expect at the European Council – that is not necessarily my role. On the funds, I can tell you that what we are doing is already very much focused on supporting civil society organisations, human rights defenders and these key sectors in the Turkish society, to a large extent.
I cannot anticipate what the European Council will debate about our relations with Turkey. What I can tell you is what we discussed with the ministers - and as I said, it is the need to look at Turkey not only as a candidate country – even if this is the kind of debate that is more in the news in these weeks and months – but also as a player in the region, as a partner in the region, for many different aspects: from transport to energy, from counter-terrorism to Syria and Iraq and other issues. It is a NATO ally that has a border with Iran, if you connect the dots you understand what kind of security interest we have in keeping in any case not only dialogue but also cooperation with Turkey strong in many different fields that go well beyond the negotiations on accession.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I144988