European Union External Action

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini following the Foreign Affairs Council

Bruxelles, 16/03/2015 - 00:18, UNIQUE ID: 150316_02
Statements by the HR/VP

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Today, on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council, we had Africa as the strategic debate -  not only the crises, not only the threats, starting obviously from the terrorist one, but also the opportunities that the continent offers. Opportunities not only to its own people but also to its partners around the world. We discussed the need to move from a donor-recipient relationship to a full political partnership, with Africa as a whole, with the African Union, with some of the African countries and sub-regional organisations.

We fully understand that African stability is European stability and that we share common interests, not only bilaterally but also on global level – I think of climate change negotiations or the post-2015 agenda – and obviously the issue of development and the issue of migration that we also discussed later on during the day.

I will say something about migration, because as you know we had an informal discussion with the Ministers and Commissioner Avramopoulos. It was the first time since ten years we had such a discussion with the Foreign Ministers, which is something quite unbelievable. It's timely to resume this discussion, as the Commission as you know is developing a new migration agenda that will be ready for May. The Interior Ministers, the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, are debating the internal side of the policies of the European Union towards migration and asylum policies. So we discussed with Commissioner Avramopoulos the external side of the EU policies on migration and asylum. And we will come back to that, in one of the future Foreign Affairs Council with concrete proposals.

In this respect, let me say that this is our common issue, it is a common challenge we all share, not only coming from the sea but also coming from land, and we found unanimity among the 28 on the fact that we need to have a complex and complete response to a complex and challenging issue - as is the one of migration.

On Libya, after my talks in New York last week with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and my talks in Egypt on Friday with President el-Sisi, with the King of Jordan, with the Foreign Minister of the Emirates and others, we continued our discussion. 

We had a first debate at the Gymnich in Riga last week, confirming the full and active European Union support to the political dialogue, that is now suspended for a few days and will resume, as we learn, on Thursday. Full and active support means not only full and active support of the talks in Rabat, but also to the different tracks of talks that are going on. As you know in Brussels we hosted last week a meeting of businessmen, more than forty, coming out with a common statement asking for a unity government. We will host next week a meeting of municipalities here in Brussels to accompany the political process with the grassroots or with the local authorities approach. And as you know, a similar debate, similar talks, took place in Algeria last week with political parties.

This is to say we do not see alternatives to political dialogue. What we are preparing for are European Union measures to support the outcome of the political process, in all possible ways. You might have seen the conclusions already that mention explicitly our strong belief that "there is no military solution to this conflict, only a political solution can provide a sustainable way forward" and that the Council invites the High Representative to present as soon as possible proposals on possible CSDP activities in support of the security arrangements. Which means CSDP activities in support of security arrangements that need to be done in the political dialogue, in close coordination with the UN, with Libya, with key partners and regional actors as part of a wider set of policy options. This means that the European Union will be ready to support the outcome of the political dialogue with all its means. 

We also had a discussion on the preparation of the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga summit in May. And let me also say that today, we agreed with Ukraine an updated Association Agenda and we will have later today, in one hour, the first Association Council with Moldova.

We also took in the Council conclusiosn a decision on Bosnia-Herzegovina, following my most recent visit to Sarajevo, during the time when Parliament endorsed and approved the written agreement on reforms. We decided to proceed with the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. I hope this can keep the energy and the momentum that I found in Sarajevo last time on the reform process to get closer to the European Union.

Let me also say the last two things. The 28 Member States agreed on my proposal to have two additional EU Special Representatives, one for the Middle East, and one for Central Asia. In the first case it will be Fernando Gentilini, a diplomat who so far has been following in the EEAS the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, a top negotiator. And for Central Asia, Peter Burian, a Slovak currently Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, with deep knowledge of the region, and also of the Russian language, which is helpful in that region. This means that the agreement was there today. Obviously they will not take office tomorrow morning.

Finally, but I guess you heard the news already, I am very late for a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. And we are having tonight first a bilateral meeting - me and him-, then a dialogue on the Iranian nuclear talks, with the three Foreign Ministers of the European Union countries that are involved in negotiations, Foreign Ministers Hammond, Steinmeier and Fabius, together with me and Minister Zarif, as we are entering as you know in the last two weeks of crucial negotiations. There are still some gaps that need to be tackled, and we hope that tonight our European-side contribution can help in solving or closing or narrowing some of these gaps.

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