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Oslo, 14 June 2016
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Thank you very much.
I wish that all my visits and all my days were so pleasant, constructive and positive as my visit to Norway. We often meet each other around the world. That is also a testimony of how much importance we put in our work for peace, stability and security in the world. We are often sitting together in multilateral formats and also working hand-in-hand within the framework of NATO. I will actually move from here back to Brussels for the NATO Defence Ministers Meeting where I will find another Norwegian waiting for me.
But Norway is really not only a like-minded country for us, it is a perfectly like-minded country. We work perfectly well together on so many issues that are important for Europe, no matter if it is European Union or non- European Union territory, because we are facing many challenges. We are also working on some opportunities and we have the same kind of approach and I would say even philosophy to investment into the resilience, the stability, the openness of societies, inside our continent and outside in the world.
And we take the same approach: trying to find solutions, trying to find a common ground, trying to find a way forward, full respect of the international law and principles and a cooperative approach to the crises we are facing.
So in this respect working together with you personally and working together with Norway is not only a pleasure, but also a fundamental asset for the European Union. I would like to thank you very much - and all your government and all the country if I can - for an excellent cooperation in so many different issues. And I am sure this will continue.
And by the way, we are also looking forward to working more and more together on the Arctic and the High North where the European Union just adopted a new strategy. I will discuss this with the Foreign Ministers of the European Union on Monday; and also together with the EU Member States that are Scandinavian countries we are looking forward to working together more and more in this dimension as well.
Q: On the UK referendum.
Q: I am confident on the decisions that the UK citizens will take. I will not comment neither the campaign nor the outcome. I can only restate what I said already, including here in Oslo, that is that from the angle of my daily work on the European foreign and security policy, the contribution that UK is putting into the shaping of the common foreign and security policy is key, is vital. This means that the European foreign and security Policy looks like it does because of the contribution of the UK among others, but also that the UK in this moment can utilise also the European Union instruments and policies in support of policies that are serving their national interests. I have many examples in this respect. The Operation Sophia that we have at sea where the UK is fully participating and has helped to shape, and the work that the UK is currently doing also in the UN Security Council on increasing the level of our fight against the smugglers networks, but also on the arms embargo on Libya – it’s a UK Foreign and Security policy priority, but is also counting on EU instruments that are common instruments. The same for the London conference on Syria where out of great UK ideas we managed to mobilise EU instruments. The same goes for the sanctions on Russia where obviously that makes sense when it is a whole Europe effort. So, no, I am not nervous. I will not comment on possible or potential results, but for sure as I said if the European Union foreign and security policy is it as it is – and in my view it is strong and effective, obviously you can always do more, but we are doing a lot – it is also thanks to the contributions of the UK. And the foreign and security policy of the UK can count on important EU instruments.
Q. On the EU-NATO cooperation.
We have worked very closely together, especially with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, from the beginning of our mandate to identify these areas and advance our very practical cooperation in these areas. I can give a few examples. We are working together on the Aegean Sea where NATO is offering a common framework for Turkish and Greek coastguards to cooperate in managing the migratory and the refugee flows and we have an excellent coordination at sea between NATO and the EU agencies and presence. We work together very closely on hybrid and cyber threats. We have a different membership, even if some Member States are allies in the NATO alliance and vice-versa, but we have different memberships and we are different in nature one is a military alliance and the another one is a regional integration project, the most successful one in the world. So we are different, but we can work together, especially in view of the NATO summit, to face together the threats and the challenges that our part of the world is facing, to complement some of the assets we have. Europe is very well-known to be a soft-power. We are not only a soft-power, we also have some hard-power. We have 17 civilian or military operations and missions around the world and in most cases we work hand-in-hand - in that case with the UN peacekeeping missions - and here again I have to say it is a very good field of cooperation also with Norway. So many areas of common work and very fruitful cooperation.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I122719