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We had a good day of discussions with the EU Foreign Ministers today on different issues.
We started with our policy in the Arctic. We continued with the Sahel where I debriefed the ministers on the contacts we have with the G5 Sahel and our work with them to support our common work, on migration, security and development. I also debriefed them on the fact that I started to work on the Migration Compacts with two of the G5 Sahel countries – Mali and Niger - last Friday. We have seen today a broad support by all Member States to the Partnership Frameworks, the Migration Compacts that we presented with the recent communication in the beginning of June. I was asked by President Juncker to form a specific project team on this with Commissioners and Vice-Presidents so we will take this work forward.
We also discussed, related to the Sahel, the implementation of the Trust Fund for Africa we established at the Valletta Summit. The funds have now reached a total amount of €2.3 billion from EU funds, and we have already started to finance projects. For the Sahel only, it is about €530 million worth of projects that are already funded and going to the area. The work we do with the Horn of Africa and with the other countries of origin and transit comes on top of that.
We then continued with the point on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There is a very clear unity among the Member States on the need to have the country's political leadership engaging in an open dialogue, the implementation of the 2015 Pržino agreement and create the conditions for credible elections, develop rule of law, support the works of the Special Prosecutor and implement the Urgent Reform Priorities.
We continued over lunch with the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). We had the EU Special Representative for the MEPP, and in particular to the Quartet, Fernando Gentilini, debriefing the ministers on the current state of play of the Quartet Report. You know that the European Union has invested a lot in revitalising the Quartet. We are now in the last phase of preparation of this report that will include also important recommendations to the parties. The Member States shared the views that were presented to them, the basic content of the report as it stands now and expressed the wish to see it published in the coming days and to engage with the parties, with Palestinians and Israelis, and their leaderships, on the basis of that report. I will discuss this further later this week with President Abbas and President Rivlin who will visit Brussels later this week.
We had also a point on the visa liberalisation in the context of EU-Georgia relations where it was clear from all Member States that there is no doubt that Georgia fulfilled all the benchmarks. Obviously, this is now in the hands of the Dutch Presidency to put it on the agenda of one of the upcoming COREPERs, but there was a recognition from all Member States on the fact that Georgia has done an incredibly good work and that deserves to be recognised as soon as possible.
We also touched upon a couple of important points to conclude. In particular I would like to mention Venezuela, reflecting the work that we have started to do to support the mediation efforts led by former Prime Minister Zapatero and two other Presidents [Leonel Fernandez and Martin Torrijos]. We are constantly in contact with Mr Zapatero, we have an open channel ongoing - even today as he is leaving to Latin America again to accompany this mediation effort, to accompany the dialogue in the framework of the Constitution of Venezuela. It is a priority for the European Union to make sure that the situation gets better and the mediation efforts will be able to count on all our united support.
And I forgot to mention one thing: the Council took an important decision- the extension for one yearof Operation Sophia and adding two tasks to the Operation's mandate: training the Libyan coastguards and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo in the high seas. I understand that you had a technical briefing on this, but let me also add that this was extremely well received by the Ministers. We are now all committed to entering to the implementation of these additional two tasks. I also reported to the Ministers - who are very supportive- about the initiative I took last Friday to launch a trilateral dialogue between Libya, Niger and Chad on joint border management of the southern border of Libya that, as we know very well, presents many challenges, both in terms of migratory flows but also in terms of security issues. The European Union will continue to prepare the ground and facilitate contacts at a trilateral level and we will accompany this also with our CSDP presence in the region of Sahel, but also our work with the Libyan authorities and also obviously with Operation Sophia at sea.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I122917