European Union External Action

Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press briefing in the margins of the Oslo Forum

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Thank you. First of all, I would like to thank you, Børge [Brende, Foreign Minister of Norway], and the Norwegian friends for offering this space for mediation and dialogue. I would like to start from here, because it is also the approach that the European Union is taking to the different crises you have mentioned, starting from the one in the Gulf. We often refer to the Norwegian model to foreign policy and conflicts, which is dialogue with all and looking for common ground. It is the approach the European Union takes, always, including with the ongoing tensions across the Gulf where we have talked to everybody starting with the Qataris, the Saudis, especially our Kuwaiti friends whose mediation we support and encourage enormously, inviting all to de-escalate, first of all, to engage in dialogue, in particular with the mediation of Kuwait. We have good relations with all the countries in the Gulf and beyond the Gulf, from Iran to Saudi Arabia, and further east to South East Asia. We just met with Retno [Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Indonesia] and discussed about how important is to work on this, and further west to Africa. We do not want to see any spill-over and any escalation go further and we believe that the dialogue-mediation approach that is the Norwegian but also the European way to foreign policy also applies to these tensions, in this moment. By the way, this is also the approach we took together with John [Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State], together with Javad [Zarif, Foreign Minister of Iran] and others during the negotiations we successfully achieved JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. So we believe in finding a common ground, win-win solutions, dialogue in all circumstances and we believe this brings results and this is going to stay the European Union’s position in the ongoing crises we see around us.

Q. There have been very mixed signals from the USA in the last months, with Donald Trump's [President of the United States of America] America first policy. What kind of role do you see the European Union should take in national peace-making in the future? Is there a new role for the European Union and what is it?

FM: I believe there is a role for the European Union already now, not only in the future. It is true: our American friends are probably a little bit more focused on what is happening in Washington. What you referred to as mixed signals, we see every single day in international media in terms of domestic discussions in Washington about the relatively new administration by now. And we see that as we keep a strong partnership and friendship with the United States, which is natural for Europeans, we also see that there might be fields, policies where our positions differ. The climate change agreement is the most obvious one, but also the support to multilateralism, the support to the UN system, peacekeeping, a certain approach to free and fair trade. We are completely against protectionism. And I could continue.

So, there are some files where Europeans will have to take the lead and are taking the lead. We are positioning the European Union as a credible, reliable, strong partner for all our friends in the world and also for some of our partners that are not necessarily friends, but partners. As I said before, we dialogue with everyone and we always look for common ground. We believe that there is always a possibility to work together and to find solutions that are not zero-sum solutions. The European Union is taking the lead when it comes to the UN system, when it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals, when it comes to climate change, when it comes to humanitarian aid, when it comes to development assistance where we invest as European Union and Member States more than all the rest of the world united. And we will continue to do so.

When it comes to the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] - we discussed that with Minister [of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javad] Zarif just yesterday - for the European Union it is crystal clear that the agreement is belonging to all the international community through the endorsement of the UN Security Council. I have a special, personal role to guarantee that it is implemented fully by all and beyond that, the European Union and its Member States will continue to engage with Iran no matter what the policies of other partners we have around the world would be, to engage in different sectors, from energy to economy, science and technology matters, as we are doing. Because we always believe in dialogue and engagement, even when we have differences and difficulties and that is always the case with many of our partners in the world.

Yes, there is a European way to foreign and security policy, built on our experience. We have been in Europe the continent that exported war and conflict for thousands of years, until 60 years ago we realised that it was much more convenient to make business together rather than fighting each other. And we believe that even if you look at the Gulf, the economic interconnections, the social and cultural interconnections are so strong, that it would make much more sense for all to translate this into finding a way of living together.

Q. On the Iran deal.

FM: Yes, I would like just to highlight one thing on this, because you asked to Børge if the agreement [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] is at risk. First of all, I would like to underline what John [Kerry, former US Secretary of State] said. We had just ten days ago the sixth IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report saying that the agreement is fully implemented. So we are defeating all these sceptics who first were betting on the impossibility to have an agreement, then on the impossibility of having the agreement starting to be put in place when we got to the implementation day, and then were saying in any case it will never hold; and now we are getting close to the second year and for the sixth time the IAEA says that it is fully implemented. I would like to say very clearly that I am confident that the review in the United States will bring to wise decisions which means keeping something that is working on the US side. But, in any case, the European Union will guarantee that the deal keeps, that we stick to that - it does not belong to any single country, it belongs to the international community and as far as the European Union is concerned and all the Member States, we will make sure that the agreement continues to be in place and our policy of engagement with Iran will continue.