Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini following the Foreign Affairs Council

Bruxelles, 09/02/2015 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 150209_02

The Foreign Affairs council today had on the agenda different points on urgencies and crises in our region. You also know that the crisis in Ukraine as such was not an official point of our agenda as we had our extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council meeting ten days ago, where we had decided already to increase the level of pressure and to increase the political efforts of the European Union for getting to an implementation of the Minsk agreements.

We have used these ten days, as you know, to follow up our decisions and to deliver on these decisions, in particular on adding the additional names to the list. In these last ten days there have been new political initiatives, in line with what we had decided at the Foreign Affairs Council ten days ago. Over the last days we have discussed, coordinated on these initiatives with the four actors of the Normandy format: with Germany, France, Ukraine - with President Poroshenko directly several times in these days - and with Russia; I myself had a bilateral meeting with Minister Lavrov in Munich.

And I have already had the chance of expressing something that unites us and has united us all in these months and in these days: that we all believe that solution to the crisis in Ukraine can only be a political one, so we endorsed today with the Foreign Ministers all efforts done in these hours, in view of a new meeting on Wednesday to reach, finally, an implementation in full of the Minsk agreements.

Today as I said the point was not on the agenda, but we are politicians, we deal with what is on the political agenda, being flexible enough to adapt our discussions to what is needed at the moment. We discussed and adopted the list of additional names of 19 individuals and nine entities that will be subject to asset freeze and visa ban, as it was decided in our last meeting ten days ago.

In order to give space for our diplomatic efforts in these hours to be developed with the maximum of chances for success, we decided unanimously, united, to put the entry into force of the measures on hold until Monday 16 February, as we believe it is our duty to give this attempt that we are doing a chance. Then we will have the opportunity to assess the developments first of all on the ground, but also the developments of this initiative on Thursday with the Heads of State and Government.

We have been consistent in our decisions, timely and united, and we count on continuing to do so for the future.

We also discussed and decided on some other issues that are major concerns for our region, starting from Libya, where we have decided to give not only all our political but also concrete support to the small but encouraging steps of dialogue, internal dialogue, that the UN is leading. Good news is that apparently this dialogue has some chances, involving all sides. We know that the situation is - and is going to stay - fragile, but the European Union has some instruments, together with the Member States, to encourage and to protect this dialogue in its further steps to try and prevent the situation from getting out of control completely in Libya. We have to give strength to the outcome of these talks and it means in particular to look in the way we can support the confidence building measures that have been discussed and might be implemented in the future.

We have also discussed and approved conclusions on Yemen. That is a situation that worries us a lot and that requires from us, today in these hours - when the UN is resuming inclusive talks - a strong political message to say that the framework provided by the GCC initiative has to remain a point of reference.

And we discussed and approved a series of measures and conclusions also on other crisis areas, in particular related to Africa, on which we will discuss further in March.

We adopted conclusions following up our discussion in January on counter-terrorism, related to how European Union external action can help and complement the internal measures that were discussed and decided by interior ministers. The informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial was held in Riga at the end of January, so we decided a set of concrete actions and initiatives to be taken immediately by the European Union together with Member States, in particular to strengthen and increase the cooperation activities with some key countries – in the Middle East, in the Arab world, in North Africa, in Sahel and in the Gulf – to work further on our diplomatic activities to try to solve the open crises, starting from the Middle East conflict. Palestine, as you know, was the centre of our work yesterday with the Quartet Principals. And to work, in particular, on prevention and on information exchange with key countries like Turkey or Saudi Arabia in our efforts to prevent and to counter terrorism from the external action side.

It is an ambitious plan: you might want to look at the conclusions in detail to see all the measures that will constitute a substantial input to the discussions that the Heads of State and Government will have on this, later in the week, on Thursday.

Obviously it is an ambitious plan that will need to be implemented. I hope - this will be done very coherently and quickly, and on this we will obviously need the cooperation not only of all the European Union institutions, but also of Member States, that are very much aware of the fact that this is, and has to stay, a priority of our not only internal and security action, but also of our diplomatic and Foreign policy.

Tonight we are resuming, restarting, the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, so I will have to leave to meet the two Prime Ministers for the first time. That is going to be something very important, an exercise that the European Union is facilitating, has been facilitating rather successfully in these years and that I intend to continue to facilitate in the future. So, I hope that tonight we will be able to conclude the day on a positive note.