Zagreb, 21 July 2017
Check against delivery!
Thank you, Marija [Pejčinović Burić, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia].
It is really a pleasure for me to be here. It is the first official visit to Zagreb, but we were together just a few weeks ago in Dubrovnik for the common work on the South-East Europe, and I am glad that I started today's visit with an excellent meeting with you.
I am going to meet the President [Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović], Prime Minister [Andrej Plenković], the Minister of Defence [Damir Krstičević] and colleagues in the parliament, members of the Defence and European Union committees, something to which I am particularly grateful for because I know that the parliament has a special role.
It is for me part of the visits I do to our Member States because I believe that the European Union from a security policy point of view does not only need to be projected outside, but it needs to be build inside. And for me here the priorities, the points of our Member States is the way of building a solid, common foreign and security policy.
In the world of today we are strong only when we act together And indeed we are together as Europeans. Our continent is unique. We are the first market worldwide, we are the second largest economy in the world, we are the first humanitarian donor and I could continue. So for me this is excellent opportunity to discuss at length and in-depth with the Croatian authorities about our common work.
You have presented in detail the issues we have discussed. So, I will rely on your debrief that I fully share. I want just to underline one point that is particularly important for the European Union and for me personally which is the work that we can do here in the region, here in the Western Balkans, related to enlargement.
For me this is a top priority. The work we are doing with all the 6 Western Balkans partners has intensified enormously in these last months. We see new horizons for hope in the region and Croatia is the key element for this common European work that we are doing to guarantee not only security, stability in the region, but also reconciliation and we have concluded that the best possible way to guarantee security is to making the European Union's perspective credible, solid for the entire region. I know that this is a common objective that we share and we discussed at length the work that the European Union is doing to guarantee that this happens.
We also discussed and agreed on the way forward on most of the pressing issues we have around us from the crisis in Syria, working on the post-conflict scenario and support after the Brussels Conference we had in April. We discussed the common approach when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf. I will be in Kuwait upon invitation this Sunday to support the mediation and try to de-escalate the crisis between the core Gulf countries and Qatar. We discussed also situation in the Central Mediterranean, our external policies to manage the migration flows, the situation in Libya, our investments in a Partnership with Africa and other issues of global relevance on which the European Union is an active player.
Last but not least, we also started to imagine how to prepare together the Croatian presidency in 2020. It is starting early, but it is time to prepare and I am looking forward to work together with the Minister and with the Croatian authorities to make sure that the first Croatian presidency in 2020 will be a full success, leading the European Union on a positive path.
Q. On Libya.
On Libya, it is not news that is not a quiet place. It is a dangerous mix, it is so since quite some years and this is why the European Union has been working all over these years, keeping Libya as a priority on different levels. And we discussed this on Monday with the Foreign Ministers in Brussels. First of all, Libya for us it is not only the corridor of migrants. It is a country, with neighbours, that needs to find its own political dialogue, institutions and finally government. This is our first priority. This is why we are working actively in these hours with our Member States, with the new Special Envoy of the United Nations, [Mr Ghassan] Salamé], with whom I spoke to facilitate a political agreement that guarantees a government in the country to manage, to control the territory and to provide to the Libyans first of all peace and security and the economic prosperity. Because it is not a poor country, Libya has natural resources that are enough to guarantee a good life for its citizens. The problem is the lack of political agreement. This is why we support all efforts to create a structured dialogue between the different parties and in particular the Prime Minister [Fayez Mustafa al-]Serraj and General [Khalifa Belqasim] Haftar and we are encouraging all the steps in that direction within the Libyan political agreement to share the responsibility in the country. This is to say that the situation in Libya needs a political agreement, not a military intervention.
We have a military presence in the Mediterranean Sea, in the international waters, with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council to dismantle the traffickers' networks, to save lives at sea and also to implement the arms embargo of the United Nations and to train the Libyan coastguards. Operation Sophia of the European Union is doing all these things in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, and in particular I would like to stress the work they are doing in training the Libyan coastguards. This is really the key if we want to empower the Libyan authorities in very difficult circumstances, to control their territorial waters in terms of trafficking of people, but also in terms of security and this is comes as an answer to your question about the presence of terrorist organisations or networks that could grow. We believe that by empowering political forces, under the strict control of civilian authorities of a national government is the way to provide security in Libya.
There is a third element about Libya that concerns also the security situation, but also the migration flows. We are working with the countries to the south of Libya, in the Sahel in a coordinated manner. I meet with the G5 Sahel regularly, last time in Bamako just a month ago to empower their security forces to control a very difficult desert territory, with long borders, no infrastructure, to avoid trafficking of arms, drugs, people and all kind of criminal organisations that might prosper in that region and that might feed into an instability that might grow in Libya.
These are the three elements on which we are working on to guarantee that Libya finds its way and we will do what is possible because I believe Libyans finally want to live normally in peace. They need to have their political leaderships engaged and committed to find a way of coming together, leaving behind the illusion that one part can rule the entire country without the other and, joining forces.This is what we support within the political agreement backed by the EU.