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Tallinn, 7 September 2017
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We will have today very important meetings.
First of all, jointly Foreign and Defence Ministers. Just one year after the Informal Defence Ministers' [meeting] in Bratislava when we started discussing the strengthening of defence cooperation in the European Union, today we will be ready to launch the Permanent Structured Cooperation and the European Defence Fund by the end of the year under the Estonian presidency. From this meeting today I would expect a very strong indication by the Defence and Foreign Ministers that Member States are ready to go; and from our side we would be ready to prepare everything by the end of the Estonian presidency. I would say that this is a major achievement in just one year. Last year we were very far away from this; it seemed to be quite unrealistic and I think we have done a remarkable European common work.
With the Defence Ministers - and again a very important input from the Estonian presidency - we will have an exercise on a cyberattack [CYBRID] that will be linked to also to the first ever exercise between the European Union and NATO. The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is here with us and will be invited to join. We will also have a very important discussion with the Defence Ministers on how to strengthen the European Union's contribution to security in the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa, which is a key strategic objective also for European security.
With the Foreign Ministers later today, we will have a point on the Middle East Peace Process and how the European Union's contribution to the two state solution can be made more effective, in a time where the trends - internationally and on the ground - are not positive.
And most of all we will have, one more time, a point on North Korea, on the DPRK. Already in July, the European Union took a very firm and united position; today we are facing a different level of threat that is clearly a threat to global peace and security and to the entire non-proliferation regime. I would propose to Ministers today to strengthen the economic pressure on North Korea, supporting a new UN Security Council Resolution adopting tougher economic measures; starting new autonomous European Union sanctions on North Korea; and working with other partners in the world to make sure that everybody implements fully and strictly the already-decided economic measures.
Our European line is very clear on this: more economic pressure, more diplomatic pressure, unity with the regional and international partners we have; I discussed this with the Ministers of the Republic of Korea and Japan and obviously with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and the CTBTO [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation] just a couple of days ago; avoiding to enter into the spiral of a military confrontation that could be extremely dangerous not only for the region but for the entire world.
Q. Will new sanctions on North Korea make a difference? Some are suggesting that they will not.
Well, in other cases they have made a difference: putting more pressure on the regime to enter into a meaningful dialogue. The European Union has always been convinced that economic pressure alone is never sufficient; that is why from our side, we have always offered our regional and international partners, the international community, and even the DPRK, the path of dialogue - credible, meaningful - for the denuclearisation of the Peninsula, that we believe should happen in a peaceful manner through dialogue and diplomatic means; and we believe that more economic pressure - more diplomatic pressure - in this respect could make a difference.
In any case, it has to be pursued, because again, other alternatives in our view are and could be extremely dangerous, especially when in front of you, you have an interlocutor that might act quite irrationally as we have already seen. So, this is going to be the kind of proposal I will put forward to the Ministers. Do not expect from today a formal decision - as you know this is an informal meeting - but my proposal to the Ministers will be to work in the coming days, to - as I said - strengthen the economic pressure including with new EU autonomous sanctions, and leaving the diplomatic and political path open.
Q. On the sanctions, can you confirm that there is the option to put Kim Jong-un on the EU list?
As I said, today I will put forward to the Ministers the proposals to work in the coming days to increase - including the European Union autonomous - sanctions. That debate, if the Ministers agree, will start as of today.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I143193