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New York, 22 September 2016
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I just chaired the joint commission on the implementation of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, so called Iranian nuclear deal) on the ministerial level; the first ministerial level joint commission we held since last year, and one that was focused mainly on the state of play of the implementation of the agreement. The agreement is being implemented. We have three reports from the IAEA confirming that Iran has taken all the steps it had to, on nuclear related issues. As you know sanctions, nuclear related sanctions, were all lifted. This is thanks to the extraordinary work that has been done.
And let me stress the fact that this is quite extraordinary in these days, these times we are living. This was really the result of team work of countries that keep their differences in some aspects, but in this file managed to put political will, determination, commitment, both in finding an agreement on an issue that was commonly recognised as a key one, but also in continuing their commitment together to get to the implementation. So the common assessment we've made is that the agreement is being implemented and this is again thanks to the political will, determination, the strong commitment to dialogue and teamwork among, as I said, the countries that might retain some differences but on this issue have managed to work together and will continue to work together.
We have commonly expressed our determination to continue working together, going the extra mile, in continuing the work on the implementation. Let me also say that we all reaffirmed very strongly the political importance, the historic political importance of this agreement that has shown to the world and to ourselves, that even the most difficult issues can be solved through dialogue and diplomacy and with a win-win approach, overcoming the zero-sum game approach that sometimes blocks us in some of our talks and some of our negotiations.
And let me also say that we are seeing the results starting to come also concretely when it comes to the European Union. I can share that we have seen this year, since the beginning of the year, an increase of 43% of trade between the EU and Iran compared to last year; that several European banks have started to facilitate transactions with Iranian banks. And we have seen an increase, greater than expected, in oil sales to European countries, where Iran has almost reached its pre-sanctions rate of 4 million barrels per day. So the trend is clear, the agreement is implemented, is being implemented. There is continuous political commitment by all, E3+3 and obviously the European Union to continue this way and the trends, the positive trends are quite clear.
I can only say that we all believe that the good results of this agreement can help solving other crises, and I personally can only hope that the positive and constructive atmosphere and spirit that we have experienced in this meeting will continue to be with us for the rest of the day and the week, as we move to other files.
Q & A
Q: What about Iran's ballistic missile testing?
No, I have already repeatedly stated, publicly, I think even in this exact position, that this is not covered by the JCPOA, the Iranian deal that deals only with nuclear related aspects, with the nuclear programme. I have stated that Iran's missile tests are not a breach of the JCPOA, obviously there are other political considerations that I can make, that are being made about the missile tests, but not related to the JCPOA; and as I said this is not a breach of the JCPOA. Obviously it does not help to ease the tensions in the region, it relates to other issues, including some UN Security Council resolutions, but it is not a violation of the JCPOA.
Q: President Rohani told the General Assembly this morning that there is a lack of compliance by the United States of the JCPOA. Was this discussed in this meeting?
We have discussed this, we discussed the outreach we have done, all of us, collectively and individually, we reached out to businesses, banks, to encourage engagement in Iran. This is a process that some of us might wish to see go a bit faster, reality is something we have to deal with, but as I mentioned there is strong commitment by all sides to continue in this direction that is already bringing some results, to accelerate the pace of it and as I said go the extra mile and continue working for the Iranian people to feel real benefits in their every day lives. It is extremely important for all of us that this agreement, this deal is not only fully implemented, as is the case now, but also that it delivers for the Iranian people and Iranian economy. So there is full determination. We discussed this during the meeting and we all agreed that we need to continue working in this direction with even stronger energy.
Q: What have you discussed in the past days about Iraq, about the operation in Mosul. What is the EU expecting, especially when in comes to humanitarian aspect and lack of funds?
This is not directly related, but I am happy to respond to that. As you know the European Union is not a military actor, even though we do have some military operations in the world, but not in that region, for clear and precise political choice collectively made in the European Union. But indeed we are committed and we are already working on the humanitarian aspects. The funds that we allocate for the humanitarian work are increasing, we are the first humanitarian donor for the entire Middle East, and we are also the first provider of development aid. The focus is in particular related to the work in liberated areas, related to de-mining, or to bringing back the normal life to the liberated areas. We are seeing very clearly that we need to invest in that in order to stabilise and for the people to be able to have their normal lives again in the liberated areas. This is an investment in security as much as, if not more than the military aspects.
Q: On Syria, is there any initiative from the EU and the UN so that the peace talks reach its final point?
I am just moving now to an important meeting on the crisis in Syria, of the International Syria Support Group, so I will not anticipate anything on that. For sure the European Union together with the United Nations can have a special role, when it comes to humanitarian support, but also on the political negotiations. The European Union has good relations with all actors in the region that have some influence with the actors on the ground. We do have contacts open with different parties in Syria. So we are ready and determined to offer all our active support to the UN mediation and obviously we hope that the military side of the negotiations, especially the one led by the US and Russia, would open the way for the political track to find more substance, and at that moment the European Union for sure will play a major role.