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Brussels, 8 November 2017
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It is a pleasure to be back, as usual, at the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting. This is a practice that we have established since we started our common work with Jens Stoltenberg [Secretary General of NATO]. I will be glad also to welcome him on Monday at the Defence Ministers' meeting of the European Union, where we will continue to work on EU -NATO cooperation in the strongest possible manner.
I know that the Secretary General [of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg] mentioned this also in his press conference - we are working on a series of concrete set of measures, some of them are already implemented, especially on hybrid threats, cyber, maritime security, but also new proposals. We are just working this week in the European Union for instance on facilitating military mobility within the European territory, which is something that will be beneficial also for the Alliance.
On the issue we are discussing tonight: DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] – I am just back from Washington D.C. where I discussed with our American friends our common approach to prevent a major crisis, a major negative development in terms of nuclear proliferation. The European Union has increased its level of economic sanctions on the DPRK - it is the country on which we have the toughest sanctions regime in the world as the European Union, and we intend this to be a push for the creation of a political space to engage in negotiations. We always believe sanctions are aimed at pushing countries to enter into diplomatic negotiations.
This is also why we attach such a great importance in this moment to keeping the Iran nuclear deal up and running. We see this is delivering – I discussed this also in these days with our friends in Washington D.C. and I am confident we will manage to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place.
I thank you very much and I will join the meeting.
Q. On the Iran deal, after your meetings in Washington this week, do you feel there is any appetite in Europe for increasing the pressure on Iran through sanctions directly related to the ballistic missile programme or its regional interference?
We have in the European Union strong concerns about both the ballistic missile programme and some of the policies in the region – especially linked to the conflicts in Syria or in Yemen.
We made clear, very clear, that these issues have to be tackled outside of the nuclear agreement that covers only nuclear related issues. For us, it is very important to keep the nuclear agreement as it is -renegotiation is not possible in our view and you do not change an agreement that is delivering.
Outside of the agreement, in the proper formats, we are already addressing some of the issues that are of concern. The European Union has kept some of the non-nuclear related sanctions in place, in particular on terrorist activities or human rights.
So, definitely, we are ready to addresses other issues, but in a separate manner and once it is very clear that the nuclear deal implementation is preserved by all sides at full - including Iran that is working currently well with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]. I met also the Director General of IAEA in Washington, Dr [Yukiya] Amano, who reiterated to me his assessment that they are having the appropriate access. We trust the Agency's independence and technical knowledge to monitor in a very strict manner that all the nuclear commitments that Iran has taken are actually met. And we will continue to keep the highest possible attention for the strictest possible implementation of the agreement - in all its components and by all sides.
Q. About the issue of EU -NATO cooperation on military mobility. This is something that both the Commission, NATO, Member States are talking about. What is the possibility of having the two organisations work closely together on this issue of military logistics and border-crossing?
I just mentioned this, exactly this week the European Union is putting forward proposals to overcome some of the obstacles that are currently making the life of our military complicated when they need to move around the European territory.
There are national legislations and European regulations that need to be addressed; we are doing this on the European Union's side and this is a perfect example where issues that we identify as issues that need to be addressed - both in NATO and in the European Union - can be solved by the European Union - in this way, benefitting also the Alliance.
So, expect in the coming three days, I would say, news from the European Union's side - very concrete one - to overcome some of the obstacles of the military mobility in the European Union territory. This is a perfect example of excellent cooperation between the European Union and NATO.
Link to the video:https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I146175