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This evening I will participate at the informal meeting of the Heads of State or Government.
We will discuss migration. My contribution will be to highlight the good work we have been doing so far, together, on the external side of our migration policies, in particular the strong political partnership we have established with the African Union, with Africa, together with the United Nations.
On Sunday, in New York, we will have a top-level meeting together with [Antonio] Guterres [United Nations' Secretary General] and Moussa Faki [Mahamat], the Chairman of the African Union Commission, to revise the work we are doing together, in partnership - a partnership of equals - that has brought results.
Numbers of arrivals have never been so low but we have to keep working on this, and to keep working means in particular, first of all, having financial investments, including from Member States that need to put more money into our cooperation with Africa; it means continuing to work with the UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees] and the IOM [International Organisation of Migration]; it also means that Member States need to do their part equally and with a sense of solidarity and responsibility in taking care of those that are entitled to international protection - allowing people that are entitled to international protection to reach Europe in an orderly manner.
I also have to say that I checked the intention of all Member States to keep Operation [EU NAVFOR MED] Sophia going. As you know, it is a fundamentally important military operation of the European Union in the Mediterranean Sea.
All Ministers - of Defence and Foreign Ministers - have indicated to me that they want to keep the Operation in place. There is an agreement on continuing the operation; there is still no agreement on how to solve the issue of disembarkation that has been put forward.
I think it is possible to find a sustainable reasonable solution, with a sense of responsibility and with a sense of solidarity, and I hope and believe that Heads of State or Government today will move forward on this.
Obviously, we will be happy and ready to take it from where they leave it and try to build consensus so that the operation can continue.
Q. How does the cooperation with Egypt look like?
I support very much President Tusk's proposal to have a Summit with the League of Arab States. This is an idea that we put on the table already two years ago with the Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States and of the European Union.
I think it is important because it is included in the idea of building partnerships and a cooperative approach with all partners we have, especially around the Mediterranean.
We will start discussing tonight with the Heads of State or Government this idea of having the Summit and I think that cooperation can be good.
Q. Can you give us an example of how this cooperation work?
We already have cooperation not only with Egypt but also with Tunisia, with Morocco, with plenty of other countries - all the countries actually on the northern shore of the Mediterranean, but also in the Middle East, in Asia.
We have partnerships with all countries of transit and origin, some of them are also countries of destination. So we have cooperation ongoing already.
Obviously, any cooperation can be upgraded, we can invest more. But we have to be very much aware of the fact that Europeans have to take their own responsibilities and that other countries cannot take responsibilities instead of the Europeans. A partnership approach does not mean having a discharge of responsibilities on the other shore of the Mediterranean.
Q. Work on disembarkation?
The work on disembarkation platforms has been discussed together with the IOM and the UNHCR and this is very important, because we put at the centre of our work, respect of human rights, international standards, and the fact that everybody that needs to be protected is protected. The work is continuing with them on finding sustainable ways to have a regional sharing of responsibility of this phenomenon.
I think this will be the indication also of the Heads of State or Government to continue on that track.
My impression is that there is no Northern African country that is willing to take European responsibilities instead of us, which is reasonable. But this does not mean that Northern African countries would not be ready to cooperate with us and with the UN, to have a reasonable and sustainable solution.
But again, if we take the approach of "we do not take them, you take them", that does not fly. If we take a cooperative approach, we have a common problem, we can manage it only together with the UN, I think this can this can be developed further. Thank you.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I160660