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First of all, I would like to thank you, Mr Secretary General [of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit] for having convened and chaired this important meeting of the Libya Quartet.
For the European Union, having this unity around this Quartet, in support to the UN work, is extremely important. As my friend mentioned, if we managed to unite, we will also help Libyans to unite, and put an end to their endless transition.
We see some positive steps since the last meeting we had, on security, on economy, on migration management, on terrorism that is being contained – we see some reasons for hope.
But obviously, we know that the situation is very fragile and this is why I believe, convening today, in support to the UN process, also discussing concrete things we can do together to support this process, is particularly important.
I would like to add two points to the very important and extensive Joint Communiqué we just shared. One is the particular focus on the South of Libya, where we very much support the work of the Sahel countries, the Libyans’ southern neighbours, to coordinate their actions to control the border and trafficking of any kind that affects first and foremost the local populations. It is important for the European Union to mention that we are ready to support them in this work.
And also to say that the European Union is and will remain the strongest supporter, not only in political terms but also in economic terms, of the work of the UN and also of the work of our Libyan friends.
We are the main donor of humanitarian assistance, of development aid, and we have a package of more than €200 million for projects to be realised inside Libya, for Libyans.
Because I know very well that there is sometimes this perception that the European Union is only interested in the migration management file, let me say – as someone who comes from a country that is directly neighbouring Libya - that Libya, for us, is first and foremost a matter of concern for the state of the Libyan people. It is a rich country, rich in natural resources, in culture, in the capacity to live well, including with its neighbours.
So, our aim is first and foremost to help, support and accompany the Libyans under the UN leadership, in ending this transition in the proper manner.
Thank you very much and I am looking forward to our next meeting in Addis Ababa.
Q. On EU unity on Libya.
FM: One of the most recurrent sentences I am used to listen to is that “it would be difficult to unite different positions of single European Union’s Member States in foreign policy”.
My personal experience in these three years and a half of work is that, actually, we might have many internal divisions and internal political issues, but when it comes to foreign policy, the European Union and its Member States are wonderfully united.
And Libya does not make any exception to that. This allows me to bring here and in our daily work, also with the United Nations, a united European Union’s position, supported by all Member States.
This has different pillars. First and foremost, the unity behind the support to the political process, but also the support to the municipalities, to the security sector reforms, to border management, to the work we do with the civil society in Libya, to the work we do together with the African Union and the United Nations on migration to try and empty detention centres - and I could continue with a long list of, I think, more than 40 projects we run together.
This is to say that there is no disunity in Europe regarding Libya today; there might have been some differences in the past. This allows us to unite forces with our partners, both in the League of Arab States and the African Union, to support the United Nations.
Q. On the results of the Quartet’s joint work.
FM: It would be probably overoptimistic to imagine that six months of work – even from the four of us and our organisations [EU, UN, AU, LAS] together - could solve the Libyan crisis after so many years of difficulties. But in these last six months we have seen progress on the ground. Still fragile progress, limited progress, but the trend compared to the past is rather encouraging and it needs to be further supported.
I believe this is partially due to the fact that we managed to overcome possible divisions of our organisations and coordinate different strands of work. We all have interlocutors that are important inside Libya, we all have expertise and parts of the work that we are used to do more than other organisations and, as I said at the beginning, for the Libyans to see us united takes away any alibi to fight amongst themselves.
This international unity is crucial. And I can give you a concrete example of how our cooperation has brought some results: since a few months ago, we - the African Union, in particular through the African Union Commission, the European Union and the United Nations, through the work of Special Representative Salamé, but also the IOM and UNHCR - committed ourselves to work together to address the dramatic situation of the African citizens detained in the detention centres in Libya. And in only two months we managed to have assisted voluntary returns, meaning having safe voluntary returns, of more than 16.000 people. This is something that is quite remarkable, more than was done in all the previous years.
This is a concrete results that thanks to our common work, our cooperation, we managed to achieve, each of us doing its part. There is still work that needs to continue but it is a concrete example of how our cooperation can save lives and introduce some positive results on the ground, for the people.
Obviously this is a matter of sustaining this work, not only in this sector but also in support to the political process, the electoral process. The months ahead will require all our support and we decided together to coordinate as much as possible our different instruments to make sure that we best support Libyans, and the work of the United Nations.
Q. On Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on Iran, what is the European position?
FM: First of all, it can only be a preliminary reaction, because, obviously, we need to assess the details of the statement Prime Minister [of Israel, Benjamin] Netanyahu has made, look at the documents, and first and foremost get the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]'s assessment, because the IAEA is the only impartial, international organisation that is in charge of monitoring Iran's nuclear commitments.
What I have seen from the first reports is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has not put into question Iran's compliance with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] commitments, meaning post-2015 nuclear commitments.
The JCPOA, the nuclear agreement, is not based on assumptions of good faith or trust - it is based on concrete commitments, verification mechanisms and a very strict monitoring of facts, done by the IAEA. The IAEA has published 10 reports, certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments.
And in any case, if any party and if any country has information of non-compliance, of any kind, it can and should address and channel this information to the proper, legitimate, recognised mechanisms, the IAEA and the Joint Commission [of the JCPOA] for the monitoring of the nuclear deal that I chair and that I convened just a couple of months ago. We have mechanisms in place to address eventual concerns.
Again, I have not seen from Prime Minister Netanyahu arguments for the moment on non-compliance, meaning violation by Iran of its nuclear commitments under the [nuclear] deal. And again, the deal was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties, otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place.
Meeting of the Libya Quartet: Joint Communiqué - https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/43815/meeting-libya-quartet-joint-communiqu%C3%A9_en