European Union External Action

Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the joint press conference with Miroslav Lajcak, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia

Bratislava, 02/06/2016 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 160602_01

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Thank you very much. It is for me really a pleasure, also an honour to, I understand, inaugurate this wonderful setting with the Slovak Presidency logo. This is not only an issue of image; it is also the first event launching the Slovak Presidency.

I also had the privilege to address all your Ambassadors together with you [Minister Lajcak], on the day when the Slovak government visited Brussels. So, indeed, we had first the meeting with all the government on one side, the Commission on the other, to prepare the Presidency; and then flying together here and preparing the Presidency on foreign policy issues, together with the Ambassadors - a perfect setting just a month ahead of the beginning of the Presidency.

And let me share with our friends of the media what I already shared with the Ambassadors: how much I value, personally and all of us in Brussels, your personal contribution Miro[slav] to our European work and also the common work we do with the diplomatic corps of Slovakia. Every time I visit our EU Delegations, I meet them, I know how dedicated they are, how good they are, and I know that it is also because of your leadership and your guidance.

And this unity of the diplomatic corps around the world, but also of our political forces, of our civil servants, of our people, is what we really need during the Slovak Presidency to make of our European Union something really united for the benefit of our citizens, of our people.

I know this is going to be the first Presidency for Slovakia, not an easy one, I understand you very well, because I was myself a Minister when Italy had the Presidency - not the first one, but still it was a challenge. I know how much work you are putting in it, but to me this is telling Europe something special. The precious thing that this tells me - the fact that this is your first Presidency – is a reminder that Slovakia, as well as other EU countries, and its people, chose to join a family, the family of the European Union, quite some years ago. And that choice was based on the correct assessment that being part of a bigger and stronger family was the only way of delivering results for our citizens.

And I think this is exactly the thing, the single thing we have to keep in mind in our difficult but also interesting and exciting times. I know that we can count on Slovakia, on your personal leadership, to make sure that all of the European Union reminds us of the added value of being together. Because there is no single challenge of this times that we can face better alone than together. Thank you.

Link to the video: 

Q. Most important thing Slovakia should be aware for the Presidency?

A. You know, the difficult thing of a Presidency is that you plan, you prepare, for a long time, before, but then you have to face what happens during those six months. And there is a certain degree of unpredictability of what will happen inside or outside of the Union that Slovakia will need to manage and help all the Europeans to manage. So it could be very smooth, it could be very bumpy, in any case it will be very interesting. If I can give an advice, the single thing to pay attention to is keeping the openness and the flexibility and the European vision, as the core one. Because the role for the Presidency is to help and assist the unity of the Europeans in times that are not the easiest ones.

What I saw already today, and knowing Miro[slav]for quite a long time, I have no doubt about his personal engagement in that, is that Slovakia has understood very well that the role of the Presidency is exactly this: to facilitate and build the unity of the European Union and let me tell you that we are united in many more cases, in many more issues than it sometimes appears. And sometimes we are a little too shy about our strength. So this is also part of the Presidency's role but, again, I am confident that we will work very well in that direction together and I am looking forward to it. 

Q. On the refugee crisis – what role for the Presidency?

A. Especially on this aspect which is the work on the countries of origin of the refugees flow, or the countries of origin of the migratory flows and also the countries of transit, especially in Africa and in Asia, the role of Slovakia is extremely important already, even before taking the Presidency, in shaping the common European vision.

The European Union is working on many different aspects, some of them are more directly related to migration management, some others are more far away, but all contribute to consolidate the countries that have problems and from where migrants either flew or run away, either in case of conflicts or poverty or droughts or major problems they are facing.

So we see the last part of the trip of the people who are fleeing, or migrating, we see the part at sea and we see their trips to Europe. But we should also look at all the rest of the journey and where it starts. And realise that when we work together, including with Slovakia for instance, as we have done in December last year on the climate change deal, we also work to prevent major dramatic situations in countries, preventing major migratory flows. When we work, as we do also with Slovakia, with one of our seventeen operations or missions around the world, including Africa, we work on security situations in countries preventing migratory flows.

All our foreign policy work that is done jointly is aimed also at improving people's lives and in this way, also preventing phenomena like migration and refugees, not to mention the excellent common work we do on the diplomatic track both on Syria, on Libya, on crises we have unfortunately around us. Thank you.

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