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Thank you very much Madam President [of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen].
Allow me to start by joining my condolences [to those of President von der Leyen] to the families of the victims of the tragic crash of the Ukrainian plane this morning in Iran.
Now, on the topic of this morning’s meeting, I want to stress that the recent developments in Iran and Iraq and the whole region are extremely worrying and we have had a very fruitful discussion at the college about what the Commission can do.
One thing is clear, the current situation puts at risk the efforts of the past years and also has implications for the important work of the anti-Da’esh coalition [The Global Coalition Against Daesh].
The latest rocket attacks on air bases in Iraq used by the U.S. and the coalition forces, among them European forces, are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further.
As an immediate next step, I have convened an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council for this Friday with the 28 Member States, and we will discuss what the European Union can do in the short-, medium- and long-term to help stabilise the region.
We have been talking with colleagues also on the situation – as you said Madam President – of the JCPoA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], which is today more important than ever because it is the only place where we can sit together with the Russians and Chinese to talk on a multilateral basis about many risks that we are facing. It is one of the most important tools of non-proliferation and regional security.
I invited the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran [Javad Zarif] to pass by Brussels. Maybe we will have a meeting soon in order to analyse together the situation of this agreement, into which the European Union has put a lot of effort in order to maintain it after the withdrawal of the United States. I am in touch with all participants as coordinator to keep the unity of the group, of the European countries represented in the work of the JCPoA, and the importance of the full implementation by all parties.
I want also to stress the strong support to the Berlin Process. It is the tool we have in order to face the situation in Libya. I am now jumping from one crisis to another. Libya is closer to us and does not present the risk of a nuclear proliferation confrontation, but there we are maybe facing a water-shed point.
The situation is very dangerous. Yesterday, we had planned to go together to Libya with the four ministers of the four European countries, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom. Finally, it was not possible due to the risky situation there. Instead we had a meeting here in Brussels and we are waiting for the visit of the Prime Minister of Libya, Mr Al Sarraj. We will also meet here, or in Rome, we still do not know where, with other Libyan leaders in order to analyse the situation with them.
We will talk about this in the next Foreign Affairs Council, and thank you very much Madam President [von der Leyen] for having the opportunity to talk together with our colleagues in the Commission College about a situation in which the European Union, especially the European Commission has a lot to do. For example, we have a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Iraq - a very recent one. We signed it one year and a half ago and it has opened the door to ongoing programmes in the multi-annual financial framework and there are many fronts and many issues on which we can make a contribution in order to ensure the stabilisation of the region.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-182725