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Good afternoon, I know that all the attention is on the top jobs but this European Council also has a very consistent part on our external action. That, I believe, is also a message we give to the rest of the world, to our partners in our region and beyond - that even in moments of transition, the European Union remains focused on its global role.
This will be the case when we discuss the situation in Ukraine, the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the Eastern Partnership, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, our partnership with Africa, and many other issues that leaders will have on the agenda today. There is also this side of the work that we will do in these two days and I expect good results and unity in this respect.
Q. Who would be the best successor for your position?
It is not for me to say but I can say that I hope it will be someone dedicated, committed, with a foreign policy and also possibly a security and defence background, so that the work that we have done in the four years and a half can be consolidated, especially on defence and security, but also on the global strategy of the European Union.
In a moment when the rest of the world looks at us as a point of reference, we need to send a clear message that we continue to stay engaged and committed and that we are there, as a reliable partner, for our friends in the world.
I hope, I believe, I am sure, it will be someone dedicated and committed with a strong foreign policy and security background. I am sure that he or she will have all the support of the Member States and obviously my personal one for a smooth transition.
Q. How much responsibility does Europe have to diffuse the tensions we see today between the United States and Iran?
I discussed this the day before yesterday in Washington D.C. with Secretary [of State, Mike] Pompeo. We agreed on the fact that it is not in the interest of anybody in the region and in the world to see a military escalation there.
The European Union will do all it can with its partners in the region and beyond to coordinate positions with the United States.
First and foremost, it is important for us to keep Iran fully compliant with its commitments under the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – Iran nuclear deal]. We will continue to work in this direction with our Member States and with the rest of the international community. This is the work we are trying to do now.
Q. Do you think that Europe would be the best mediator between the two sides?
We will try to do what we can to diffuse tensions, to open all channels of communication and to make sure that an escalation is avoided.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-174566